Enda Kenny: The political corpse that’s leaving a bad smell

Not back in Ireland 72 hours and we were already hearing that Enda Kenny wants to further delay his stay in Government Buildings, writes Daniel McConnell

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during a St Patrick's Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory in Washington DC.

The political corpse is dead, long live the political corpse.

That famous description by Shane Ross about Enda Kenny last year during the negotiations to form a Government stung bitterly and still angers many in Fine Gael.

But, following his successful trip to Washington, Kenny is in fine form. He has a spring in his step. He stood up to the Donald on the thorny issue of immigration and won widespread applause from international commentators.

Sure, why would he want to go when he is so popular?

Not back in Ireland 72 hours and we were already hearing that he wants to further delay his stay in Government Buildings.

Some in Fine Gael took issue with my description of Kenny as a ‘squatter’ having lost the election last year, but the tag is now more apt than ever. A majority of the public don’t want him to stay, a majority of the Dáil don’t want him to stay, and even a sizeable portion of his own party would prefer if he just went away.

But, Kenny is not about to make life easy for those eager to unseat him and the mood within Fine Gael for a heave is virtually non-existant.

That is especially true given Kenny managed to lean on and silence those malcontents like Alan Farrell and Pat Deering three weeks ago.

While most of the focus is on Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, as of now the likes of Richard Bruton and Frances Fitzgerald cannot be excluded, although they are unlikely to succeed.

The feeling is though that the presence of either in the race will hurt Varadkar more than Coveney. But as to how it all plays out is largely contingent on what Kenny ultimately decides to do himself.

The contenders would like to use the Easter break to hold the race but Kenny is not willing to play by anyone else’s rules.

Despite his insistence that he would deal with the matter “effectively and conclusively” on his return from Washington, now he is home, the mood yesterday is he will not address the matter at this week’s meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

One minister said last night it could be two weeks before he does so. It was also being put about that Kenny will try and remain until the summer recess in July, which would be pushing the patience and tolerance of his likely successors to the maximum.

Suggestions of Kenny becoming an interim Taoiseach — while the leadership contest got under way — were floated yesterday by the likes of Brian Hayes, the MEP, with Bruton saying such a scenario was possible.

It seems the political corpse is either decomposing slowly or has come back as a ghost to haunt us all. Either way, we are all left with a bad smell.

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