00:00 Saturday 10 July 2010 

Fine Gael leader ignores talent available in Cork SW and NW

Re-appointed a gang of backstabbers to front bench!

INDAKINNY's Fine Gael is sicker than you think. The inmates have taken over the nut-house.

Look at the facts: Rural Cork has two large constituencies, Cork South West and Cork North West, but they can take a running jump for all the Fine Gael leader cares. Cork South West has two fine TDs, Jim O'Keefe and PJ Sheehan, both with ministerial potential. Yet, they were considered not good enough to serve on Kenny's shadow cabinet. That's a disgrace.

Cork North West has the very able Michael Creed who participated in the failed palace revolution. To his credit, Creed did not grovel, beat his breast, or cry 'ochone ochone, I'm very sorry Mister Kenny, please gimmie back me front bench job'. He didn't do so because he was convinced Kenny was a bad leader.

Consequently, Kenny left Michael Creed, a man of principle, to stew in the wilderness while he re-appointed a gang of backstabbers to the front bench. Their redeeming grace - in Kenny's eyes - was an act of contrition in the style of the nauseating example set by Richard Bruton: 'we have full confidence in you, Mr Kenny.' (Two weeks ago, they hadn't any 'confidence' in him. Not a shred).

And, as if to rub West Cork's nose in it, he appointed two political non-entities from the South Central constituency of Cork city to his inner circle. One was Simon Coveney, a dyed-in-the-wool intriguer, and the other was the personable but political lightweight Deirdre Clune, a Kenny loyalist.

CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

With that madness as a background, it's clear Kenny takes the public for idiots. Half the front bench declared no confidence in him but their plot to shaft him went off half cock. A few days later, the conspirators (collectively with the backbone of a chocolate éclair) grovelled to be taken on board again. He acquiesced.

Does Kenny believe their dicers' oaths? When he says that Fine Gael is now 'united and focused,' is he being Machiavellian or just plain stupid?

Consider whom he chose to replace Bruton as shadow finance minister. None other than the ageing Michael Noonan, a serial 'heaver.' In 1993, Noonan was involved in a 'heave' against then party leader, John Bruton, and ended up on the losing side.

Back in opposition after 1997 and again appointed spokesman on finance, he was involved in a second failed 'heave' against John Bruton in 2001.

Finally, after a third, successful 'heave' that resulted in Bruton's defeat, Noonan took over as leader of Fine Gael, defeating Enda Kenny in the leadership election that followed. Noonan pointedly refused to appoint Kenny to his frontbench, curtly informing the Mayo man, "I have nothing for you".

BEST OF ALL WORLDS?

But Inda, who is a mix of Blessed Martin de Porres, Oliver Plunkett and Mother Teresa, forgave him - which suggests that poor ol' Inda is also a bit like Candide, for whom all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

It also suggests that in the months ahead Inda will need the assistance of his Praetorian Guard of Phil Hogan, Paul Kehoe, James Reilly, Frances Fitzgerald and Alan Shatter to protect him from such notorious plotters as Noonan, Baby Bruton, Coveney and Varadkar, particularly after making his 'I am going to lead by example' comment.

Because, if anyone has the potential to damage the party, it is his 'hard man', Michael Noonan. Historically, 'Baldy' was the greatest disaster since General O'Duffy. In the 2002 general election, he presided over the worst electoral debacle for the party since 1948.

As well as banjaxing Fine Gael, he also inflicted huge damage on the ministries he controlled. During his time as Justice Minister, the inmates of the overcrowded and understaffed prison on Spike Island burned their place of detention. The Department of Justice never saw its likes.

As Health Minister, he refused to accept government liability in the Hepatitis C crisis that affected hundreds of women who received contaminated blood. He took an appalling line against mother of twelve, Mrs Ellen McCole, who sought an explanation as to why she was dying of Hepatitis C. Nor can the public forget his Department's antagonism to legal claims brought by Hepatitis C victims who had been infected by tainted blood.

Noonan repeatedly insisted a tribunal would be of no useful purpose and he told Mrs McCole that he and his FG government would fight her all the way to the Supreme Court and that she would have to pay all the costs.

Shortly before she died, the Blood Transfusion Service Board apologised to the lady. Then, public outrage at what was perceived as State cruelty forced Noonan to establish the Hepatitis C Tribunal of Inquiry and to utter several apologies for his handling of the affair. It was not his finest hour.

NO NEW BROOM

Yet, as far as the 'meeja' is concerned, that's water under the bridge as it presents Noonan and Kenny as a golden couple. Noonan ('The Beast'), it claims, will revitalise Fine Gael and 'sort out' Lenihan, Biffo and butties. So far, all the signs are to the contrary.

Within hours of returning to frontline politics, Noonan admitted that if Fine Gael ever got power it would continue with many of the Government's economic and financial policies because they were 'irreversible.'

What's more, some of Fine Gael's economic plans, such as the 'Good Bank: Bad Bank' strategy, were to be dumped because they were no 'longer relevant'. In fact, he grudgingly confessed that Fianna Fail had gone in the right direction in tackling Ireland's debt problem. So much for the new broom, the 'Beast'!

So where does that leave Inda? Out on a limb, surrounded by nincompoops, plotters and people like Simon Coveney who with a straight face told the 'Evening Echo he didn't enter politics 'to get involved in internal wranglings.' That really had the punters falling around Canty's!

POLITICAL LEGACY

But, can much else be expected from a party whose leader met the Stormont power sharing government and promptly told Gerry Adams that, whatever about the North, Sinn Fein would never, never serve in government in the South because of the IRA's existence?

Days later, someone gave Kenny a crash course in Six County politics and explained in simple English how things had changed up there and that there was no longer an IRA.

An astonished Edna Kenny quickly rushed into the Dail and breathlessly revealed the earth shattering news: the IRA had disappeared.

Asked for a comment, Mr Adams shrugged his shoulders and remarked: 'The man is silly!' Sadly, that may well be Indakinny's outstanding political legacy: silliness!

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