Taoiseach does his homework on Sinn Féin

It was back to the classroom for Enda Kenny. The Taoiseach wanted to get into the minds of the gaggle of fifth- year students before him, writes Elaine Loughlin
Taoiseach does his homework on Sinn Féin

“It’s always interesting to know what’s in your head”, he told the rows of teenagers at Mount Carmel secondary school in Dublin’s inner city.

Perhaps he wanted an insight into how gender quotas might look in the next Dáil. Putting on his former teacher’s hat, he told his female audience that they could do anything they aspire to, achieve anything.

“You can be the person you want to be and nobody can stop you or hold you back,” he said. “I am interested in your views, in your questions because you are the generation who are going to have to take over.”

However, getting into Enda Kenny’s head isn’t quite as simple.

At Fine Gael headquarters yesterday, he was asked if he could reveal a little bit of the real man, and whether he, like Environment Minister Alan Kelly, is a power- thirsty politician.

“I will never aspire to be Alan Kelly”, he quipped before turning back onto the good people of Ireland and well away from Enda Kenny.

“Actually, the power now rests with the people. I have said this a number of occasion, politicians are only servants of the people.”

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Will the real Enda Kenny please stand up?

However, one thing we know is that Mr Kenny is adamant he will stand up to Sinn Féin.

He was in fighting form yesterday as he took every opportunity to hit out at Gerry Adams.

At the daily press conference, journalists sat up from their slouched positions as Mr Kenny launched his first grenade at Sinn Féin on the issue of the AK-47s — not to be confused with the Alan Kelly type, mind.

“The AK-47s may well be very similar, if not of the same cargo, that came in from abroad with the Provisional IRA a number of years ago,” he claimed.

“It might be interesting to hear the Sinn Féin president comment on this, because if that’s a fact it’s absolutely hypocritical to go talking about the abolition of the Special Criminal Court, when we know from judges in the past of the gross intimidation of juries and witnesses.”

Cue ear-pricking. “Did he actually say that?” one journalist whispered to another.

And then it was onto the campaign trail for a brief ceasefire in the schoolyard.

It was up to local minister Paschal ‘hello everybody’ Donohoe to introduce Mr Kenny.

While Fine Gael’s coalition partners may be power- hungry and embroiled in a squabble over who wears the trousers, there was no such row in Fine Gael.

“The man that I am here with is the Taoiseach, he’s the head of government, he’s my boss,” Mr Donohoe said to stifled teenage giggles.

Mr Kenny then turned to tell the students about his life as a leader which involves being part of the EU council.

Paschal grinned with his head tilted towards his chief, perhaps believing that he could one day become a leader too, as the Taoiseach’s “you can be whatever you want to be” rang in his ears.

However, Paschal has to get re-elected first.

“Do we like Paschal? I think we do,” Mr Kenny said as he urged students tell their parents to vote after a show of hands revealed only three of his audience could get the minister re-elected.

After the pep talk and a kick-about on the school’s roof-top astroturf, it was back to the battle front.

“When I see the Sinn Féin party talking about abolishing the Special Criminal Court, I think that the people of this country would want to be very careful and take very careful note of the propositions on the table,” he told supporters in the Dublin Rathdown constituency.

“But mark you, the security of your State, the security of your community, the security of our society, is at stake here because those who conduct business in the way that we saw in the Regency Hotel in the past few days have no regard for either law and order or life and limb.”

Fighting talk.

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