Sunday, April 01, 2007


Enda Kenny's speech to the Fine Gael Ard Fheis last night was in marked contrast to the gameshow extravaganza Bertie Ahern gave us last week. It was, most of my political colleagues agreed, the best speech of the conference cycle and probably the best of the past couple of years. There was a studied effort to make it as different as possible to that of Ahern the previous weekend - and it played to all of Kenny's strengths - the perception that he is honest; his personable nature; his ordinary man perception. Much more on this tomorrow...

Meanwhile, the controversy over Ahern's speech rumbles on this morning. Stephen O'Brien in the Sunday Times has a very interesting main lead implying that Brian Cowen, the FF deputy leader, was kept in the dark about it until very late, and the Sunday Independent also lead on it. Stephen Collins column in The Irish Times (subscription) was also excellent. My colleague Paul O'Brien and I both led on the same story last Monday (click here for Irish Examiner story).

The upshot is somebody is either that somebody is telling porkey pies or that some of the most senior ministers are excluded from the deliberations of the cabal of advisers that surrounds Ahern (suggesting that he now has the equivalent of Tony Blair's sofa Government). So who should we believe? Those who tell us that it was planned all along (and I had two separate briefings on Friday to this effect) or those who say that there was a panicky about-turn by Ahern in the run up to the Ard Fheis?

Fianna Fail has made a habit of this. We should call it the hyperventilating stunt. They did it with decentralisation, with electronic voting, with the rash promises of no-cuts made before the 2002 election.

Given the adverse media coverage this weekend, is this another of the stunts that's going to backfire?


FF Soldier said...

Sure, Kenny just let hot air out of him last night. At least with the Government we know where we all stand.
He has been at that for the last few years, asking us all to trust him and telling us he is a man of integrity. But the question is, is he able to run the country.
My answer is no. Definitely. No.

Anonymous said...

wow - you commentariat chaps are really really dying to change the current lot aren't you? kenny's speech was awful and excruciatingly like the ian duncan smith conference efforts.

Dan Sullivan said...

Why is it I wonder that on blogs and various fora that a great many more supporters of the main government party than supporters for anyone else tend to post "anonymously", ff soldier being just one example.

Harry, I believe that the election of 1977 is going to raise its head a lot more over the next 2 months. After all it proves FF have form when it comes to making crazy promises and saying to hell with the consequences for the country.

I've yet to hear either Bertie Ahern or Seamus Brennan come out and repudiate the '77 manifesto or the obstructionist policy of FF during the 80s, if FF had adopted a Tallaght strategy in 82 who knows how much earlier the Celtic Tiger might have arrived?

Harry McGee said...

Strange thing about the above was that the second and third comments needed to be moderated at the same time, which gives some suport to Dan Sullivan' thesis, as he wouldn't have seen the 'anonymous' one.

As for the argument made by 'anonymous' I wasn't the only member of the punditocracy to think Kenny's speech was his best - I think most of us thought that.

My opinions on a change of Government remains neutral, as it must and should. I am as agnostic on the current coalition as I am on the putative one.

As for Iain Duncan Smith's speech. It was awful. Risibly awful. Beware the anger of the silent man! Ugh! Kenny has one skill that Ahern doesn't and that is he's much more fluid and fluent delivering a half hour speech, and better and getting to that personal-brushing-up-against-sentimental stuff. Mightn't help him if he has a tough decision to make on raising taxes. But, hey, it works for party conference speeches. Can't agree that it was awful.