“The Taoiseach now standing at Platform 1 is the 08.30 Austerity Express, calling at all stations to the second bailout...”
While Enda Kenny’s early morning canvass outside Dublin’s Pearse Station was not quite a train wreck, it certainly ended-up being derailed with something of a wallop.
As if positioning the Taoiseach between a rubbish bin and a no campaign poster was not bad enough, Enda’s media handlers then allowed the whole event to be hijacked by a notoriously shouty British TV scene stealer.
Michael Crick from Channel 4 News, aka: The Walking Mouth, has a reputation on the other side of the Irish Sea for making his own badgering performances the centrepiece of any encounter with politicians — and Fine Gael generously allowed him the run of their gig.
“Come on! Meet your Prime Minister! Meet your Prime Minister! He wants to persuade you!” Crick bellowed at bemused looking commuters as the Taoiseach stood rather passively by the bin.
A combination of Enda’s unusual reticence and Mr Shouty’s loudness saw the Taoiseach canvass exactly six people (well, seven if we are going to be nice and include the blonde woman who gave Mr Kenny an embarrassed smile after he waved hello at her from beside his bin).
Fine Gael’s media flunkeys either could not or would not regain control of the situation as Crick performed the role of circus ringmaster and the Taoiseach was reduced to the status of his sidekick.
Though, to be fair, the handlers did offer Enda some advice, such as: “Don’t speak to the man on the right. I spoke to him just now. Avoid him,” while another sympathised at the lack of voter interest, musing to Mr Kenny: “They just look at the pavement and avoid eye contact.”
Well, apart from the angry woman with a push chair trying to get through the scrum, who spat out at Enda: “Nowhere else you could have done this, no?” before Mr Kenny pleaded with people to let her pass.
An increasingly annoying Crick was by this stage demanding of the Taoiseach: “Why aren’t you persuading them? Bertie Ahern would have been right in there!”
As the event unravelled further, the human fog horn then pulled over train passenger and no voter Karl from Dalkey to have it out with the Taoiseach beside his bin.
All this talk about Enda running scared from a TV debate, and here he was having just that — shame it was on British TV and lasted about six minutes. And although Karl did his best, you got the feeling his heart was not really in it.
After that, everybody just seemed too embarrassed to soldier on anymore. Crick wandered off safe in the knowledge he had been allowed to dominate the entire encounter and Enda decided to take up residence in a coffee shop two doors down, where he kindly bought everybody a hot drink (Full disclosure — the Irish Examiner took the soup, or to be precise, a large Earl Grey).
Sadly, when Enda put his coffee under the milk spout he found it had run out — it really had not been the Taoiseach’s morning.
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