Well, here we are in another week and everything in the political world in Ireland is still in turmoil.
Enda Kenny has told us all that he will state his intentions at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening. By then, my piece will have been written and the Advertiser newspaper put to bed, so I cannot, obviously, forecast what will happen.
I am glad though that Enda went home to Castlebar to his wife Fionnuala, his family and his best supporters and talked it over with them. He has no finer political strategist in his team than his own wife Fionnuala. As I told the readers before, I knew her very well when she was doing the publicity for Fianna Fáil in those years of 1982 to 1987. I was new in the Dáil and was the Shadow Minister for Education opposite Gemma Hussey.
Fionnuala and I had many an outing together. She guided me well. I found her sensible and practical and, I am quite sure, they are the qualities that she has kept intact as she reared her family. I like the way she always kept the family life separate from whatever her husband was doing, either in Dublin or around the world. Yet, I have the strong feeling that she was always there for him when he wanted, advising him as to the way forward.
Someone in Enda’s position needs someone like that to be there for him through thick and thin, and fortunate he is that he has someone like his wife Fionnuala.
Last Wednesday in Dublin, the Taoiseach spoke to the Institute of European Affairs. A friend of mine, Dr Brian Murphy, who worked with Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, sent me a copy of this Taoiseach’s speech on that occasion. He also spoke to me, and said that while the speech would have been written by a very good civil servant and speech writer for Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach delivered it with a passion and vigour which was outstanding, and this was recognised by all present.
Brexit and its attendant difficulties is the main plus item that Enda Kenny has going for him at this time. I have no doubt that, regardless of the outcome on Wednesday evening, he is the very best person to deal with the huge challenge which Brexit is posing to us all in this country. He knows the European leaders and they know him, and he has already begun his tour of speaking to them privately in their countries before he engages with them at the European Council meetings in Brussels.
The present contenders for the so-called vacancy do not measure up at all in that regard, so I fail to see what the mad rush is of some within the Fine Gael party to have a new leader immediately.
Readers, you may well ask, and you have every right to ask me when I am pontificating on the matter, who would be my favourite. I will be straightforward with you. If I had a vote (which I do not have ), I would vote for Simon Coveney, the present Minister for Housing.
Last Friday night in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone, we had the Lip Sync competition run by Buccaneers Rugby Football Club. It was a marvellous night of fun and entertainment. The winner was Nino Magliocco who played the person of Amy Winehouse, the sad singer who died about two years ago. He looked like her, dressed like her and performed brilliantly. Between us, the judges and the audience who had a vote, he was voted the very best item on the programme. There were some terrific showings, many of them young people, all voluntarily doing their bit for their club.
It is a great development that both the GAA and the Rugby Club and other clubs are running Strictly Come Dancing and Lip Sync competitions to give a great night’s entertainment and to generate some much-needed funding for their club. Well done to Nino in his terrific portrayal of Amy Winehouse.
Speaking of rugby, we will all be looking forward to the match next Saturday between Ireland and France in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Like so many of the readers, I look forward to these clashes with great anticipation, and I hope our anticipation will be justified and our enjoyment assured.
Before that, next Thursday night, I have been invited by the head librarian for Wexford to visit Enniscorthy Library, to give a reading from my book Letters of My Life, and to meet with many of the readers in Enniscorthy. I was there four years ago after my first book came out, and I had a great night. I am really looking forward to going to Enniscorthy again.
I started this column today in writing about politics and I am going to end it in the same vein. Micheál Martin is playing a very good game as leader of Fianna Fáil during all of this political turmoil in Dublin. Of course, there would be many within the party saying he should go for an election now that Fianna Fáil are climbing in the polls.
As you know, I have no belief in those polls, so I pay no heed to that aspect of it, and neither do I think that Fianna Fáil would get any reward from the electorate for rushing again into the electoral fray just a year after we had the last election. What would that solve? Absolutely nothing! So Micheál has, to my mind, been conducting himself in the proper way and ensuring that his party stays together and is united in its message to the electorate.
When Fianna Fáil change leaders, it is always a coup with much bloodshed, recriminations, blame, and rows. Thinking back to when Jack Lynch went, when Charlie Haughey went, when Bertie Ahern went, when Brian Cowen went, it’s always the same.
But it is not the same with Fine Gael. They appear to do it in a polite sort of gentleman’s fashion, or so it would seem. But we await the outcome of Wednesday’s parliamentary party meeting with great interest.
Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,