Enda Kenny seeks to cut media exposure

Enda Kenny and his senior advisers are looking to severely restrict media access to him as part of a Fine Gael strategy to see him re-elected Taoiseach.
Enda Kenny seeks to cut media exposure

Mr Kenny has drastically reduced the number of “doorstep” engagements with the media in the past few weeks, facilitating just one round of questions from reporters last week.

Since taking office, Mr Kenny has typically engaged at least once a day with reporters and taken questions about the breaking news of the day.

But the Irish Examiner has learned that some of Mr Kenny’s inner circle of advisers are “deeply unhappy” with how accessible he is to the national media.

Senior government sources have said that they would like to arrive at a point where Mr Kenny would do one big press conference a month, like David Cameron does.

They have complained that other European leaders are not expected to “do a doorstep daily” as Mr Kenny is.

“Most European leaders don’t do regular doorsteps, the Spanish prime minister only did one press briefing and took two questions at it last year,” said one senior government source.

“Leaders across the EU find it laughable that the prime minister of any country would have to react to breaking news on a daily basis.”

When he was taoiseach, Bertie Ahern would often do several doorsteps a day and when Brian Cowen became taoiseach, he limited his outings to one a day.

There is a feeling that such constant access to the media is too risky a strategy, especially in a second term.

“Bertie Ahern had set a precedent by doing regular doorsteps, but that had backfired on him during the time of the tribunal when he was then forced to answer questions he didn’t want to address during doorsteps,” the senior government source said.

Mr Kenny has continued that practice of the daily doorstep, though in recent months he and his team have repeatedly tried to limit press conferences in foreign countries so he would not take any domestic questions.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s director of elections, Brian Hayes, who called on Fianna Fáil voters to again loan their votes to his party has been branded “hugely arrogant”.

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman, Niall Collins, said it appeared Mr Hayes, since moving to “the leafy suburbs of Brussels”, has adopted the clothes of Phil Hogan, Ireland’s current EU commissioner.

“Brian Hayes is in Brussels and he is probably spending too much time with Phil Hogan, he has taken to adopting his quotes. But he is really out of touch with what is going on and the mood of the country. It is hugely arrogant in how he is addressing the public,” Mr Collins told reporters yesterday.

Mr Hogan famously in 2011 called on disillusioned Fianna Fáil voters to lend their votes to Fine Gael which many of them did.

But Mr Collins said those voters won’t be fooled a second time.

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