Stuck in 1985 – time for end of Enda era

Posted By: March 22, 2017

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast.Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Enda Kenny is in danger of making an eejit of himself.

Yes. Yes. He has done it already with that astonishing admission to the Dáil that he made up a story about a conversation with minister Katherine Zappone which didn’t happen.

That’s why the skids are under him and why last month he promised his party he would deal ‘effectively and conclusively’ with the issue of his leadership when he returned from Washington. Hah.

At the weekend it was clear he now intends to do no such thing. He announced to no little consternation in Fine Gael that he wouldn’t stand aside as Taoiseach until an Executive was formed at Stormont and Brexit negotiations had begun.

 Well, we know Brexit negotiations begin after March 29 but an executive at Stormont? That could mean the twelfth of never and as the saying goes, that’s a long, long time.

Mind you he couldn’t resist telling another story to make himself sound important. He announced that he and Theresa May had agreed there would be no return to direct rule here. The British government issued a terse non-committal statement to the effect that maintaining political stability in The North is a UK responsibility. No-one believed Kenny whose self-aggrandizement had produced the rebuff. As Jeffrey Donaldson said, he was “pushing the boat out a little on that one”.
It was just another of Kenny’s stories, more proof that it’s time for him to go. When?
No-one will push him. The two contenders for his job have been dithering now ever since the last election in The South, which, don’t forget Kenny lost but no party won. Both Simon Coveney the favourite and Leo Varadkar have their knives out and are circling Kenny anxious to wound but afraid to strike.
Does any of this matter to The North? Yes it always does. What is needed in The South is a general election to get rid of Fine Gael which has allowed this place to drift for years.

Either Coveney, who has never said a sensible word about The North or Varadkar, who gave a partisan anti-nationalist interview last week would be just as bad for The North as Kenny. Both have no interest and little knowledge: certainly no policy to advance matters here.
Unfortunately for six years out of the 10 the DUP and Sinn Féin have been running the Executive Kenny has been Taoiseach.
Eamon Gilmore, who was deeply hostile to Sinn Féin, then the equally hostile Charlie Flanagan have been ministers of foreign affairs with responsibility for The North. Neither took a pro-active interest in The North.

Their performances during the ‘fleg’[flag] protests, Haass talks,  and Stormont talks were lamentable. Indeed their main aim seems to have been to prevent Sinn Féin gaining any traction in case that advanced the party’s ambitions in the Dáil. On the other hand,  any time there was likelihood of movement in The North,  up popped Kenny to sideline his minister, especially if there was a chance of making a vacuous pompous speech or grabbing a photo opportunity.

That didn’t happen often because the Irish government has been supine or silent on the north, or both, depending on the chances of Sinn Féin gaining any credit. All questions in the Dáil from Gerry Adams, Kenny routinely batted away by referring to events a generation ago. Now in his sixties Kenny remains stuck about 1985 and can’t see or accept that 70 per cent of nationalist voters in the north vote Sinn Féin, that as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement it’s his duty and obligation to stand up to the British government in the interests of Northern Nationalists even if that means cooperating and coordinating with SF.

He just doesn’t get it. This mental block is particularly unfortunate when there is a reactionary British government driven by right-wing Little Englander ideologues who hold the Prime Minister [May] captive.

For their part Fianna Fáil remain content to keep this shambles of a Fine Gael led government afloat until they believe they can get enough votes to avoid bringing Sinn Féin into coalition. Micheál Martin doesn’t care what happens in The North because the longer Kenny hangs on the better for Fianna Fáil.