Enda Kenny’s eight-minute speech that silenced the critics

When Kenny finished, an extensive round of applause began and there was no debate, writes Daniel McConnell.

It is bonkers. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has secured his position by announcing his intention to resign.

Last night, in the Fine Gael parliamentary party, Kenny took to his feet and in less than eight minutes, secured himself a reprieve from a threatened mutiny.

The meeting room on the fifth floor of Leinster House, complete with its portrait of Michael Collins and past party leaders on its walls, was prepared for a bloodbath, but it was not to be.

Ahead of the meeting, Dublin Rathdown TD — and Alan Shatter slayer — Josepha Madigan called for phones to be confiscated to stop the now traditional leaks from the room during the meeting.

While the phones were not left at the door, a Sinn Féin silence did fall upon the meeting for the first half hour at least, to the agitation of the political correspondents gathered downstairs.

At 5.30pm, Kenny arrived to a packed room and took his seat at the top table, beside party chairman Martin Heydon and secretary Noel Rock.

As Heydon opened the meeting, an anxious looking Kenny took a sip of water before taking to his feet.

With TDs, senators, and MEPs in attendance, Kenny calmly began setting out his stall and clarifying his position.

He began by calling on Rock to take accurate notes, which many saw as a direct dig at the young buck, who had angered his boss last week by calling on him to go.

Kenny said: “I hope the secretary can put down his pen and listen.”

During his address, Kenny did not specifically lay out a timeframe for his departure, but confirmed the issue will be dealt with after he visits Washington, DC, for St Patrick’s Day.

Kenny spoke from written notes, clearly, carefully, and deliberately, outlining the achievements of Fine Gael in office under his leadership.

In a pointed dig at those rebels who had made so much noise last week but who have been far more rueful this week, Kenny said he would not be “bullied” by what he called caucuses within the party.

Kenny, displaying the sort of resolve which saw him win out in the 2010 heave, said he wasn’t afraid of a motion of no confidence. He said veiled threats have “no effect” on him.

“You could see the blood drain from people’s faces,” said a party source.

“Their heads dropped and Leo [Varadkar] looked particularly pale.”

When Kenny finished, an extensive round of applause began and there was no debate.

Nothing from Noel Rock, nothing from Fergus O’Dowd, nothing from Pat Deering, nothing from Brendan Griffin. Nothing from anyone.

“No debate was had, but no debate was sought,” said one member, adding that those who had been “most vocal” the previous week remained silent on the leadership issue but were willing to speak on other topics.

And that, as they say, was that. Kenny survives another day.


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