Taoiseach’s ‘breathtaking arrogance’ sparks outrage

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of breath- taking arrogance over plans to remain in power into the 2020s.

Taoiseach’s ‘breathtaking arrogance’ sparks outrage

Revelations in the Irish Examiner by Government chief whip Paul Kehoe that Mr Kenny intends to fight the 2021 general election if he wins the looming Dáil poll sparked outrage across the opposition.

Fine Gael also moved to try and limit the damage from the comments, as ministers insisted such a long stint in power would be decided by the electorate.

Mr Kehoe’s assertion there would “absolutely” be a voter transfer pact between Fine Gael and Labour has also ruffled feathers.

A number of Labour TDs have expressed concern such a deal could damage the party’s already weak position in the polls, as the formal Mullingar Accord pact between the two parties did in the 2007 election.

Fianna Fáil senator Darragh O’Brien branded Mr Kenny’s hopes of staying in power into the next decade as “laughable and pathetic” and likened it to North Korea. He insisted it showed how out of touch the Government was because there was “complete and utter disconnect” between cabinet ministers and the reality of life experienced by voters.

Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane accused the Taosieach of breathtaking arrogance for assuming he could remain in power past the expected 2021 general election.

Mr Cullinane called on the Coalition to test its popularity by calling an immediate general election.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe attempted to distance himself from the remarks as he insisted it was a matter for voters who the Taoiseach is.

“This first and foremost is a decision for the people of Ireland. The people who decide who the Taoiseach of our country is will be the people when they cast their votes in the ballot box. We will have a general election at some point, I believe, early next year, and it is at that point they will decide who the next Taoiseach will be.

“How long the Taoiseach remains in office is first and foremost a decision for the people of Ireland, and I think there is nobody more aware of that than Enda Kenny himself. As long as Enda retains the ambition and drive to continue as leader of Fine Gael I will absolutely support him in that role,” the transport minister said.

Mr Donohoe said he is “strongly” in favour of a voting pact with Labour.

Mr Kehoe sparked controversy when he stated: “I believe Enda Kenny, if he is returned as Taoiseach after the next general election, will serve another five years and more.”

The remarks drew comparisons with Charles Haughey’s admiration of Chinese leaders remaining in power into their 80s. Mr Kehoe also made it clear that when Mr Kenny is replaced as leader of Fine Gael, there will be more candidates than the received front-runners, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar.

Mr Kenny is expected to call an election in February or March.

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