Yesterday was to be the day. Those Fine Gael rebels who had vented their spleen last week about wanting rid of Enda Kenny had until 1pm to put down a motion of no confidence in time for tonight’s meeting.
The 1pm deadline came and went, and it was confirmed no motion was submitted.
The party’s vice chair, Pat Deering the Carlow- Kilkenny TD, who last week had said he would make such a move was in far more conciliatory mode on his arrival back from a trip abroad.
Deering said that he would not put down a motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny if the Fine Gael leader commits to stepping down soon after he returns from his St Patrick’s Day visit to the US.
That was some way back from the maelstrom he caused last Thursday when he threatened to table a no confidence motion if the Taoiseach did not set out a timeline for his departure this week.
Talking himself down off the ledge, I mean, clarifying his position, Deering stressed that the numbers for a heave are there, but added there is “no desire” to force a vote on the leadership if it is not necessary.
“My initial comments on Morning Ireland were he should reassess his position and inform the party this week, which he is going to do,” Mr Deering said.
“If we are talking about the timeframe announced by Simon Coveney on Sunday, I think it would be reasonably acceptable,” he added.
For Kenny, he has kept his counsel.
His stony silence since the weekend has spooked the bejaysus out of his jittery troops who are petrified he will dig in and stay on.
They are also petrified that they may be caught on the wrong side of the line when the pending battle concludes.
Kenny has sought to capitalise on that. He has not even told his closest ministers what his intentions are. Ministers have said that a communications blackout has engulfed Government Buildings with little or no word seeping out as to what Kenny’s plan is.
Some have taken the view that his silence means he will give a definite time-frame for his departure.
When asked cheekily by Independent Minister Finian McGrath at Cabinet yesterday what he will do, Kenny smiled and replied: “Don’t worry Finian, all will be made clear on Wednesday night.”
As I wrote on Saturday, Kenny is refusing to allow himself be humiliated by those eager for change.
But, there is something very unedifying about how all of this is beginning to play out. What we are getting from within Fine Gael is the Taoiseach deserves a dignified exit and it should be on his terms.
What about the taxpayers who deserve a fully functioning Government? What about the 7,000 plus people who need a home but can’t get one?
The last thing the country needs is for the political system to be placed on hold for 12 weeks while Kenny says his goodbyes.
It is clear from the lack of legislation going through that Government business has ground to a halt and will remain static until the leadership issue is resolved.
All eyes turn to tonight’s parliamentary party meeting where Kenny promises to make his intentions clear.
A nation holds its breath.
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