Egg Face Enda

Brian Cowen hasn’t been alone in attracting ridicule in recent times. Visitors to the country might be excused for thinking that the pairing system operated by TDs for some Dail votes also extends to pairing off when it comes to silly behaviour. They might conclude that the evidence for this lies in Enda Kenny, having watched his opposite number in Fianna Fail, party leader Brian Cowen, fall off the credibility cliff, decide to do likewise; that Kenny reckoned this is what a Taoiseach in waiting - as he fantasises - must do if the wait is to be brought to a satisfactory end.

The pairing system is bog standard nudge and wink politics in the Dail. It permits elected representatives to be absent from votes without detracting from their party’s voting strength because someone from another party will agree to be absent at the same time. It keeps things on an even keel.

Enda Kenny thought he was onto a great thing when he opted to shaft the Fianna Fail government. Constrained by diminishing numbers in Leinster House’s tight voting game, the Fine Gael leader sensed an unprotected jugular and blood. And with all the ferocity that any toy teddy could muster he set out to get it. Tanaiste and Minister for Education Mary Coughlan was due to attend a meeting in Chicago. Its purpose, according to the Irish Times was:

aimed at boosting the level of attendance by US students at third-level institutions here, which currently has an estimated value of €900 million to the economy.

Mary, rather than feeling a fair wind at her back, found the outstretched foot of Enda catching her from behind before she even set foot on the transatlantic fight. The Fine Gael leader must have felt like giggling all the way to the political numero uno spot. That was until Labour came along, paired off with Coughlan, and hit him square in the face with an egg so big the whole country could see it. It was so well spread there seems to have been no part of the facial anatomy left splatter free. Protest as he might that he was not blushing, that his face was white and yellow, most observers knew it was bright red, Labour red.

How did Kenny make such an error of judgement? Given that his decision to shaft Fianna Fail on pairing was so vulnerable to a little political upending from another party, it is baffling that Kenny failed to first cover his left flank before setting out on his daft venture, and strike a deal with Labour on the matter before abandoning the deal he had in place with the government party. While he was upfield taking a questionable shot at Fianna Fail’s net, Labour were converting with aplomb the penalty kick he gave them. Wally of the year.

That he managed to steal some of the Brian Cowen’s threadbare credibility is probably why his rating in the opinion polls is well behind Labour leader Eamon Gilmore. Potential voters are likely to think that if Enda does not look over his shoulder on matters this simple he cannot be trusted to steer the economy out of trouble and is more likely to have some juggernaut of a bank ram into the back of him as a prelude to start the screwing procedure all over again.

Fine Gael is now reduced to slamming Labour’s claims of having no intention to go into government with Fianna Fail after the next election. Gilmore has already insisted that it is ‘crystal clear’ that Labour are ‘not going to put Fianna Fail back into government in any form after the next election.’ Even if Gilmore is spoofing nobody believes that Fine Gael will not suck up to Labour if by doing so it is assured of being in government. And Gilmore played it very well with public opinion by pushing patriotism before party:

We should not obstruct a Minister going to an event which might have the potential down the line to generate jobs or to generate investment in the country ... we have 450,000 people out of work in this country and we felt that the priority really is to do whatever can be done to try and get jobs for people and to try and get investment in this country ... Our main criticism of the Government is that they haven’t done enough of this.

With Labour as the left most party in the Dail, Enda Kenny is positioning it nicely as a serious contender for breaking the mould and providing the next Taoiseach.


  1. the pairing system also operate's
    at westminister, its probable that this is where the dail got the idea from and they say that politics is dull

    SINN FEIN will give it another go come the next dail election.

  2. jeeesuus Mickeyboy are the people in the republic not suffering enough with the wasters they already have in the Dail,without you wishing to inject a few more lying scumbags,anyway after the bearded ones preformance in the last election the psf vote in the south looks set to fall even lower,you can pair your comrades up with your new found soulmates the stickies and close the door behind you on the way out mo cara

  3. flirting/paired up with conservatives/unionists in the north..FG is their natural ally in the south surely. Or would that be out of order in the south? or just too honest about where they are memory of the TEN.

  4. Larry,

    I am convinced that SF would go into governent with Fine Gael if FG made, not the right offer, but any offer.

  5. Anthony psf would go into govt with any party no exceptions, power and power only is their only goal,like ff fg and the rest they have used the deaths and memories of those patriots for their own selfish interests,no policy no ideals just power.

  6. Michael

    Woeful indeed a party is when it needs to form alliances in order to further its image.
    I am not knocking your optimism or questioning your undying loyalty to PSF considering PSF members and supporters seem a little indisposed when it comes to the Quill.
    I would imagine PSF would do better building a stronger presence in the occupied north rather than being overly ambitious attempting to build a solid base in the south.
    I can appreciate the long term strategy involved though it seems they are losing ground in the north and taking a beating in the south won’t exactly endear would-be voters to their cause.
    Obviously PSF had no trouble sneaking in the backdoor in the north though it is somewhat hypocritical of the party to attempt piggybacking their way into the south.
    It would seem PSF have no clear way forward if they choose to form alliances that only benefit the party and not the people it is also a good indication that PSF are not as strong as they would have people believe.
    Forging an alliance in the south appears to be an alternative PSF have which shows they understand their support base in the south is extremely weak.
    What exactly is the benefit to the people in the north if they manage to get a foot in the door?
    An upstart party with grand ambitions again they would do better focusing on the north as I am sure most of those youths in the recent protests in Ardoyne will not be voting PSF in the near future. How much longer can PSF rely on the old ArmaLite and the ballot box generations?

  7. Aye well said Tain Bo I think the psf wave crested in or around the early 1990,s plenty of media air time all the right soundbites ie, peacfull intentions, and a wave of public goodwill, I think now that they are in the real politic as you have rightly stated they have found out that they are not the cute hoors they thought they were rather small fish in a shark infested pool,they may be a wealthy party and the monies may help keep them afloat for a while but in the end I see psf going down the drain like those other revoluntaries the sticks.

  8. Tain Bo,

    Sinn Fein were done for down here from about 5 years ago. Then Adams capsized the boat in the televised Leaders' debate. It is hard to see them turning it around. A new leftish leadership from the South around people like Eoin O Broin could make a difference. But the right wing leadership in the North will do everything to preserve itself

  9. Marty,

    even the way Cowen treated them with no invite to the economic meeting says it all

  10. Here's hoping Enda doesn't have all that egg to himself. Adams' decision to shaft Morgan and steal some limelight down here might lead to an egg sharing executive!