By Patrick Brogan
There will be no apologies for that headline. In a sense, that is the way Enda Kenny operated. Always driving forward, seemingly, without concern for those seriously suffering. No apologies. He became the longest serving Fine Gael leader and longest serving Fine Gael Taoiseach.
Many commentators have talked about his longevity, he is a warrior, a battler. Maybe not. He was a TD nearly 20 years before he saw any meaningful cabinet position, even then it was only Tourism and Trade, hardly the path to greatness. In his early years, he showed more concern with his constituency than national matters. That goes some way to explaining his tardy entry to government politics, but I suspect he never really stood out as a good or even capable politician, and rather than this being a negative, it worked in his favour, just like his counterpart across the Irish Sea. Until recently that is.
He was never on the radar, but one-by-one, the big names of Fine Gael dropped off. FitzGerald, Bruton, Noonan. Finally, it was only Enda left. And he was steeped in luck. Had he not lost the leadership contest to Michael Noonan, it would have marked him in a way he may never have recovered from because the party was wiped out in that election. Noonan had to make way. Really, it was openly up from there. When in opposition, Fianna Fáil destroyed the economy in spectacular fashion. They basically handed over the keys of Leinster House to Fine Gael.
When in power, Enda Kenny was finally tested. Many said he was handed the unenviable position of rebuilding an Irish economy that the previous Government had utterly demolished, along with Ireland’s reputation. Was there another way of handling the crisis? Something other than brutal austerity measures that, let’s face it, ruined many lives and forced them into an early grave? Of course, there was. An economy is only a manmade construct. Something created with our imagination. We can change it at any time.
Yanis Varaoufakis offered the Greek people an alternative to rampant, destructive fiscal measures. Listen what he said about Kenny’s Government and Kenny himself in an Irish Times article; “Mr Varoufakis told the Right2Change meeting in the Mansion House that Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin were both part of a conspiracy to crush the Irish people. (Enda) Kenny said Irish people went mad borrowing. Really? What happened is that a small band of Irish international bankers, developers and politicians built up a gargantuan debt that you have to take on.” And Kenny was always clear about who he blamed for the crash;
His numerous and frankly, bizarre lies will not be missed. He repeatedly screwed over the little guy, even in his own neck of the woods. Just ask the Rossport Five. He was bumbling, yet, seemed single-minded in his assertion that the Irish people were to blame and must be punished. And still, I have a feeling that some way down the road he may be missed, because, as Donald Trump is to George W. Bush and ISIS is to al-Qaeda, Leo Varadkar will be to Kenny. Things have a funny way of showing you things can get worse, and with Leo Varadkar now at the helm, that is a very likely possibility.
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