For Enda Kenny, it’s true: All things end badly... or else they wouldn’t end

Bray People - - OPINION -

THE tru­ism ‘all things end badly or else they wouldn’t end’ is com­ing home to roost for Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The fall­out from the Mau­rice McCabe fi­asco has now shifted fo­cus and there are ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the up­per ech­e­lons of Fine Gael.

There has been wide-scale sym­pa­thy across the board for ev­ery­thing Garda McCabe and his fam­ily have had to en­dure. But one man’s bur­den is an­other’s op­por­tu­nity and Enda Kenny’s time at the helm is com­ing to an end.

Politi­cians are masters at cosy­ing up to the pub­lic’s sense of out­rage but be­neath this pub­lic per­sona the pis­tons of self-op­por­tu­nity are al­ways work­ing full throt­tle.

The topic of Mr Kenny’s de­par­ture had been a can that was al­lowed be kicked down the road. But his fum­bling over the McCabe con­tro­versy forced the ‘rebels’ hands. It ap­pears the lead­ing con­tenders were not ready to launch a putsch but the McCabe de­ba­cle – and the fact the Fine Gael came per­ilously close to an­other Gen­eral Elec­tion with Mr Kenny at the helm – made the heave in­evitable.

In many ways Mr Kenny only has him­self to blame in this mess. His grasp on power showed lit­tle sign of loos­en­ing even af­ter the party’s dis­as­trous elec­tion re­sult in 2016 but the GUBU-like events sur­round­ing the McCabe scan­dal re­vealed a Taoiseach who ap­peared over his head.

His seem­ing def­er­ence to Micheál Martin – in­creas­ingly seen as Taoiseach in all but name – will also have hard­ened the FG rebels’ re­solve that the time to move had come.

Min­is­ters Coveney and Varad­kar may have set the pace in the race but there are rum­blings that Richard Bru­ton, Si­mon Har­ris, and Paschal Dono­hoe (who has pub­licly de­nied any in­ter­est in the job) are study­ing the form and may en­ter the race in the fi­nal fur­long.

Mean­while, one should not rule out a late bid from Min­is­ter Frances Fitzger­ald. She is noth­ing if not con­fi­dent and hav­ing weath­ered the early storm of the McCabe fi­asco, she may well bounce back.

It wasn’t sup­posed to be like this for the man who res­ur­rected the for­tunes of a party nearly de­stroyed in 2002 and who would later help lead Ire­land back from the eco­nomic brink.

The FG lead­er­ship battle will be a long and in­trigu­ing con­test and – de­spite some me­dia claims – the out­come is far from cer­tain.

Those out­side Fine Gael can only hope that the party’s mem­bers make the right de­ci­sion. It is fun­da­men­tally un­demo­cratic that a vot­ing pool of just over 25,000 peo­ple will de­cide the next Taoiseach.

The fu­ture of their party is enor­mously im­por­tant to Fine Gael’s mem­bers and we can only hope they feel the same about their coun­try.

The big­gest shame in all of this is that the fo­cus has shifted from Mau­rice McCabe and onto the in­ter­nal bick­er­ing of the Fine Gael party. One pre­sumes that when the Tri­bunal proper gets un­der­way – and in his­tory books years from now – the FG lead­er­ship race will look triv­ial by com­par­i­son.

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