Enda Kenny fails to thaw the icy conditions in Poland

It was a day to forget for dear old Enda Kenny. Feeling the chill wind of the Polish winter, our dear leader stepped into minus-10-degree conditions and that was just his meeting with the Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo.

From their body language, the meeting did not appear to go well.

In Poland on his latest spin of his Brexit roadshow, Enda was in town to garner support for his call to make Ireland a special case during the Brexit talks between Britain and the EU.

But he got no joy from the no-nonsense Polish leader, who failed twice to express any support for Ireland.

Her view: many issues need to be resolved in the Brexit talks.

Then poor old Enda’s glitzy press conference got completely overshadowed by the raging justice crisis at home which is hovering over the head of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

The Irish media only got to ask two questions, and both related to the position of O’Sullivan, who as the chief law enforcement officer in the country, is now subject to a judicial commission of inquiry.

To lose one commissioner is unfortunate, to lose two is careless. Asked if was credible for her to stay at her post, Kenny was sticking by his woman: “In respect of the Garda commissioner, yes I have confidence in her, full confidence in her. There is no prime facia evidence, there is no indication of any wrongdoing of any kind against the Garda commissioner. For that reason, she is fully entitled to the support of Government.”

Asked was the Government’s support merely an exercise in trying to protect and prolong his time in office, a riled Taoiseach gave a sharp response: “Your comment that this is about prolonging the lifetime of the Government is utterly irrelevant.”

But the Taoiseach’s stance is a curious one.

On one hand, he described the controversy as a “very serious constitutional matter. There is a formal commission of inquiry arising from protected disclosures”.

But on the other hand, when asked why it was ok for Ms O’Sullivan to stay in charge, he said no evidence exists to support the allegations: “These are all allegations, none of them have been proven. There is no evidence of wrongdoing. You cannot have a country if everyone against whom allegations have been made have to step aside. She has the full confidence of the Government, and that is why we are having a commission of inquiry with powers of compellability which will determine the truth of the allegations made which Judge Iarlaith O’Neill was unable to determine.”

So either it is a serious constitutional matter which requires her to step down without prejudice or there is no evidence so why then hold an inquiry at all?

While some sought to make Brendan Howlin’s intervention in the Dáil the story, the denials so far from O’Sullivan are what would be expected — but this saga refuses to go away.

Kenny last night was the guest of honour at an Irish Embassy gig in Warsaw but he probably needed it like a hole in the head.

If Ireland is going to get its special status, then it appears Enda will have to change his strategy because it is not working at the moment.



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