There’s just no sweeping Enda Kenny aside

Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar may want to be the new broom that sweeps Fine Gael clean, but Enda Kenny was retaining a firm grip on the handle at the Cruinniú na Cásca festivities.

Ushered over to see set dancers go through their paces, the Taoiseach gamely joined in a traditional Irish sweeping brush dance, hopping sprightly over and back without missing a beat.

And that was just the physical manifestation of his signature move — the side-step. For the hour that he attended the lively, noisy, colourful celebration of art in its many forms, he demonstrated that the art of politics sometimes means staying completely quiet.

So on a day when he could have addressed any number of political shenanigans — the wreckage of the water charges, Micheál Martin’s grab for the moral high ground, Mr Coveney decreeing the boss will be gone before the summer or in other words within the next six weeks — the Taoiseach decided to shut up and dance. Oh of course there was praise for Cruinniú and more than a little philosophying about the meaning of the day.

“It’s a cruinniú, that means, not just a meeting, not just a gathering, it’s about people, it’s about ourselves, it’s about who we are, it’s about Ireland not being afraid to express ourselves.”

But as for expressing any views on current affairs, there was no fear of that. Instead, the Taoiseach presented a masterclass in how to convince that all is right with the world.

He glad-handed passers-by, scooped up their toddlers for photographs, fist-bumped the older siblings, and hugged volunteers.

He called on the Mexican mariachi band to play ‘La Bamba’ and sat grinning while dancers from the Chinese Irish Cultural Academy twirled before him in scarlet gowns and then blinded him with selfies.

And then he waltzed with assorted women, including Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

“And I did not stand on her toes,” he announced triumphantly. “You’re lucky,” she replied.

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney

All in all, this was the performance of a man who looked like he was at the start of an election campaign, not at the end of his leadership.

A pair of Japanese tourists observing the commotion questioned a volunteer steward as to its cause.

“It’s our Taoiseach,” the woman replied. Blank faces looked back. “Or as we like to call him, Ed Sheeran,” she tried again, using a little humour to explain the fuss and photographers. More blank expressions.

“It’s the head of our government,” she explained, keeping things simple. “Ah”, came the response, and the camera phones were instantly raised.

Ed Sheeran might fill Croke Park but Enda Kenny is big in Japan. Beat that, Simon and Leo.


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