Kenneth Egan rolls with the punches at Fine Gael unveiling

Former Olympic boxer Kenneth Egan with Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Fine Gael TD Derek Keating at the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel, Dublin, where he declared his intention to run for Fine Gael in the local elections. Pic: Colin Keegan

For a reformed party boy, you would have thought boxer Kenny Egan would be more choosy about parties these days.

But as Fine Gael trotted out the Olympic silver medallist to be their local election candidate on his South Dublin home turf, he only seemed to have the vaguest idea who the Blueshirts were or what they were about.

Asked why he was standing for Fine Gael, Mr Egan sort of shrugged and said: “It didn’t really matter what party it was to be honest.”

As he spoke, cabinet minister, and Kenny’s new political minder, Frances Fitzgerald, tried to keep her smile as tightly fixed as ever, but inside you sensed she wanted to scream.

Pressed to expand on his new found love for Fine Gael, Kenny — who prefers to be called Kenneth because: “That’s what my mam calls me,” — declared: “I was approached by Minister Fitzgerald, I wasn’t approached by anyone else,” before again stressing that the party was irrelevant.

Perhaps Fine Gael could adopt that as its slogan for the crunch May showdown: “Vote No 1 For The Irrelevant Party: The Party That Doesn’t Matter.”

Once his deep commitment to Fine Gael had been established we moved onto Kenny’s, sorry, Kenneth’s views on freedom of speech, when, in a somewhat profound soundbite, he announced: “Yeah. I say yeah to that. Free speech. Definitely.”

Mr Egan’s much publicised battles with addiction dominated his explanations for wanting to run as he said he could use his experiences to help young people in the community tread a different path to his own.

And as policies go there are certainly far worse ones to run on — Fine Gael’s record in Government being an obvious example.

“I’ve made lots of mistakes in my day. I know I have. I’ve been upfront and honest about that. If I can help youth in my local area, that’s all I ask of myself. I’ll be honest with them, I’ll tell them my stories — and I have some horror stories.”

When tiresome council matters like planning issues were raised, Kenneth insisted he would “stick to what he knows” at first.

But he did seem to grasp what it is going to be like on the doorstep in austerity Ireland: “I’ll probably get a few F-offs, but that’s part of it.”

As Mr Egan made it clear, Ms Fitzgerald had done all the chasing to get him on board, highlighting Fine Gael’s previous risky flirtation with “celebrity” candidates — the political, walking timebomb George Lee springing to mind.

And, much to the obvious delight of sitting TD Ms Fitzgerald, Kenneth refused to rule out a future stab at the Dáil.

Thankfully, boxing cliches were kept to a minimum at the campaign launch, but Mr Egan certainly seemed fighting fit in a blue jacket and black and white cartoon t-shirt.

Asked who the person depicted on the t-shirt was, he said: “Einstein, I think it’s Einstein. I’m not sure.”


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