As I write this column on Wednesday after midnight, I am filled with sadness. My lovely sister-in-law Ann Lenihan died on Tuesday, October 25. It was completely unexpected; she just quietly passed away. Yes, she had been ailing and a little more than a year ago had a major heart operation, but she seemed to have come through it and to be making some headway.
Ann was at my book launch and filled with delight at the letter I wrote to her in that book. She was my best woman friend since her wedding to Brian Lenihan Snr back in 1958. We remained always in contact and at pivotal points in her life and in mine we were almost inseparable. She knew what I thought about everything, and I knew what she thought. We were almost at one on everything that mattered.
I look back from today with fondness to the two small holiday breaks we had in the west of Ireland. Last May we were in the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill for four wonderful days. The year before that we were in Mayo at the wonderful hotel that was the Railway Hotel in Mulranny. On both occasions, Ann, her daughter Anita, and myself had such lovely experiences. My mind will treasure those forever and the memories will give some solace to me.
Her daughter Anita is desolate. She was Ann’s constant companion in later years and gave such care, devotion, and love to her that I know her life is now void and empty and it will take a long while for her to get out of that slough of despair. For me, a great companion, a great friend for life has gone and I feel a want in my daily life which is going to be very difficult to fill. We were always on the phone to one another, she one day, I the next, and so on it went. We thought alike on so many matters. May she rest in peace.
Anyway, enough of this, but I very much wanted to share it with you, the Advertiser readers, and to thank so many of you who contacted me to convey sympathy. Thank you to one and all.
Now to other matters. As I said above, as I write this it is Wednesday after midnight and the whole Gardaí issue is up in the air. No one is quite sure as to what will happen come Friday. Will the Labour Court demand an end to strike threat while they consider the issue? Will the commanding letter from Nóirín O’Sullivan, the Garda chief, have the effect of ensuring that enough gardaí turn up for work to enable the country to be properly policed? No one knows, but there is no doubt we are in a very perilous situation. A country without Guards? It cannot be contemplated and the Government has a very dangerous situation on its hands as I write.
So what did you all think of the two-part documentary about Enda Kenny on Monday and Tuesday night just gone? I watched it each night with great interest, and while it was good to see so many faces and hear so many voices that I knew so well, nothing really startling came out of it. The only thing I found myself convinced of was that Enda Kenny should stay on as Taoiseach for as long as he wants to stay, and not be subject to the whims of Leo’s gang, the four to six TDs he has whipped up to interject with snide remarks from time to time.
I have it on very good information that this is the game going on in the background all the time. I loved the portrayal of Fionnuala O’Kelly, now Kenny, Enda’s wife. There is no doubt she has been the strong force in his life, buttressing him at every turn and providing love and family stability right throughout his political career.
I know Fionnuala very well. When I entered the Dáil in November, 1982, I was appointed shadow Minister for Education in January, 1983. At that time I had a lot of dealings with Fionnuala and I remember, with great fondness, a particular press lunch which she set up for me with the main education writers in Ireland at the time, Pat Holmes, Christina Murphy, and John Walshe. It was in connection with school transport.
Fionnuala had a very solid head on her and a great managerial manner, as well as being attractive and effective to all with whom she dealt. The luckiest thing that ever to happened Enda Kenny is that he met and fell in love with her. She will be there with him when he decides to leave public office. I do not at all like the smell of the conniving coming from behind the scenes. In warning to Leo, “He who plots will never wear the crown”.
The thing that stood out for me in that well-devised documentary was the number of years that Enda Kenny was in Dáil Éireann without having made a political input into affairs of the nation. His was a late coming, but when he came he certainly made an impact.
So, to another contest in another continent - what to make now of Hillary and Donald? The latest input from the FBI into the emails controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton - will it have the effect of dropping her vote? Remember, more than 22 million people have already voted in the US before this emerged. My belief is that it will not have had enough of an effect to deny her the presidency, particularly as no firm information of any kind has emerged.
No, my main worry is that, whatever it is, it will eventually be serious when it emerges. Now that will be a very dangerous situation. However, as of now, it appears that while the gap has narrowed between the two, it has not narrowed enough to allow Donald Trump to be elected president of the US. Another six days to go and we will all know the final result. The candidates have put in a late spurt of action, heightened by the knowledge that there is so little time left and so much ground to cover.
That’s all for now. Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill,