Fine Gael may suffer some “short term damage” from last week’s leadership divisions, but Enda Kenny’s handling of the situation will only enhance him in the eyes of voters.
This is the view of leading FG members in Galway city, who were reacting to the outcome of the recent divisions which saw John Bruton and nine of the party’s front bench declare no confidence in Mr Kenny.
Last Thursday afternoon Enda Kenny won the motion of confidence in his leadership and defeated the attempted coup led by Richard Bruton.
The result will have been welcomed by the majority of FG members in Co Galway as most are understood to support Mr Kenny.
Senior party figures in the city believe that in the short term, FG’s poll ratings will suffer because of the divisions between the Kenny and Bruton camps emerging into the public.
“In the short term the event will be a drawback,” Galway West TD Pádraic McCormack told the Galway Advertiser, “but Fine Gael has come out of worse than this and out of more difficult situations. We now have to get down to the business of ensuring the current Fianna Fáil led government is removed from office.”
“Fine Gael are probably damaged by this,” said the party’s city councillor Brian Walsh, “but I believe that is only in the short term and that we will overcome this.”
Dep McCormack and Cllr Walsh both believe that what will help recover from the recent split is Enda Kenny, and that his performance during the affair will have shown the public that he has the necessary mettle to be a leader.
“He performed well during the week, showed leadership, passion, and determination, and I think that is what the public will take and remember from this,” said Cllr Walsh. “People I have been talking to were impressed at a side of him they felt they had not seen before, and others said, ‘He grew a pair of balls’.”
Cllr Walsh said this will probably result in an improvement in Enda Kenny’s personal ratings in the next number of opinion polls and he feels this will reinforce his position as leader and convince voters he has the qualities that could make a good Taoiseach