If a handful of seats had bounced the other way in 2007, Enda would have limped into power at the head of a ragbag coalition, just in time for the financial crash. FF would have been utterly ruthless in their condemnation, writes Shaun Connolly
IN CHINA it will be the year of the Monkey, in Ireland it will be the year of the Enda.
Same difference — because Mr Kenny is the cheekiest little monkey Irish politics has probably ever seen. At the same time he’s the luckiest loser in Dáil history — yet he’s about to become Fine Gael’s biggest winner ever.
Enda’s most oft-repeated New Year’s resolution to himself must be not to look too smug as he dances out of de Valera’s limo after it sweeps to the GPO for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 uprising commemorations.
He might also consider resolving to stop telling whoppers to get elected as well.
Mr Kenny’s commitment to full employment was thrown out with the Christmas wrapping paper, just like his near decade-old pledge to “end the scandal of patients on trolleys”.
Apparently, even though it’s reached record levels on his watch, it’s not such a scandal any more, because Mr Kenny knows he is almost certain to head the next government no matter how many 91-year-old people are left to languish on trolleys for 29 hours or more because there is so little credible alternative to a FG-dominated government — however messy, or short lived, that next coalition may be.
Untouchable Enda also knows he has somehow aquired a lucky touch that has seen him go from being elected leader of Fine Gael by default (because he was the least worst option after the party’s elite was decapitated in the election wipe-out of 2002) to the brink of being the first FG Taosieach to gain a second term. How did that happen?
Unless he really did make a pact with the devil in 2010, when he saw off Richard Bruton’s admittedly cack-handed coup attempt, I doubt if Enda has any more clue than the rest of us.
Mr Kenny remains the luckiest loser ever in Irish politics because, with the aid of his trolley posters that have turned out to be oh-so believable, in 2007, if a handful of seats had bounced the other way, he would have limped into power at the head of a ragbag coalition of FG, Labour, the Greens, and Independents — just in time for the financial crash to strike him like a nuclear missile.
It must have been one of the most fortuitous escapes in political history.
The global tectonic plates of dodgy finance were already shifting, and thanks to 10 years of FF-PD economics — hand out anything that bribes voters and hands off anything that controls bankers — Ireland would not suffer the major tremors of the other economies, but a full-blown earthquake and meltdown.
Fianna Fáil’s appalling arrogance and financial folly ensured Ireland became the first western nation since the 1930s to go into depression — a 20% contraction of the economy — but that will not be a world-beating achievement you will be seeing on FF election posters any time soon. Imagine if those half dozen seats had gone Enda’s way in 2007?
FF would have been utterly ruthless in their condemnation of the reckless rainbow government that had just flushed all their hard work and sound decision-making down the toilet — and Brian Cowen would now be cruising to a second term of majority, single-party, rule.
But Biffo was born in January 1960, a year of the pig, and while he handled much of the financial crisis in the manner of a clown, few people were left laughing at the end of it — apart from the greedy, casino cowboys and spivs he failed to rein in. They laughed all the way to their proverbial banks.
Monkeys, on the other hand, are “highly intelligent, resourceful, and sharp”, and are adaptable to any profession. Hmmmm, that doesn’t quite sound like our Enda though does it?
Oh, that’s right, that’s because Enda, at nearly 65, is older than he looks — he denies dying his hair, but then he denied effectively removing the Garda commissioner from office — and being born in 1951 makes him a rabbit.
Rabbits “tend to be gentle, kind, quiet, and elegant”.
Now that sounds more like the Enda we know and reluctantly tolerate as Taoiseach because there is such a poverty of opposition.
But, who is that waiting in the wings to topple gentle, elegant Enda, once the election is won? Yes, It is Leo Varadkar — Leo the wonder horse.
Born in January 1979 — yes, he really is that young, he just talks like he is in his 50s — Leo is as strong as a horse, and that is very bad news for Enda.
“Horses are hard-working, intelligent, friendly, positive and popular, but impatient. Horses often tend to consider themselves better than others and they should pay attention to not becoming overly egoistic. The best occupations for Horses are adventurer, poet, politician, scientist,” according to a guide to Chinese traditions.
And what of Enda’s other overly-ambitious would-be heir, Simon Coveney? Well, it turns out that he was born in 1972, the year of the rat.
“People born in the year of the Rat are imaginative, charming and very generous towards their loved ones,” according to the guide. But read on, Enda. It goes on to state: “Rats are said to be aggressive, ambitious, distrustful, and power-seeking.”
And when does the Chinese New Year begin? Why, February 8 — just as the general election campaign is set to climax. How fortuitous again for Enda, maybe he did make that pact with the devil after all, or maybe he really is the luckiest little monkey we’ve ever known.
Lucky again for Enda is the fact that 2017 is the year of the rooster, but the horse and the rat might be operating to a different political calender.
Savour the election, Enda, then watch your back — you don’t want to end up rabbit stew.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved