“Welcome, to the desert of the real.”
“The great flame war of 2015. We don’t know who struck first but we do know that it started when the Unshaved Mouse gave a mixed to positive appraisal of Enda Kenny.”
Name: Enda Kenny
Party: Fine Gael
Terms in office: March 2011-Present
Stop. Stop right there. Yes you. The one about to leave the wonderfully well-reasoned and dispassionate comment about why I deserve to be molested by porcupines and then set on fire. Yes. I put Enda Kenny in the number four spot. Yes. I did that. But ask yourself this: Who should I have put ahead of him? Cowen? Ahern? Haughey? Big DeValera fan are we? Hmmmmm?
“What’s that? Garret Fitzgerald had GOOD INTENTIONS!? My country can’t live on GOOD INTENTIONS, Marge!”
Bruton? Really? Are you going to get all fired up because I ranked Enda Kenny higher than John Bruton? You wanna be that guy? You want to die on that hill?
“That would be an unjust war.”
So who’s left? Costello? You want me to say that John A. Costello was the fourth best Taoiseach?
“That sounds like a wonderful idea!”
“Ha! Classic Costello!”
Sorry if I seem a little punchy, but attempting a dispassionate evaluation of our current Taoiseach is dangerous work. Alright, so.
Enda Kenny, who is he?
Yes “he”, American readers. Enda is a male name.
Born in Mayo, Kenny was the son of TD Henry Kenny. After his dad passed away in the seventies, Enda ran for his old seat and won, joining the Dáil at the tender age of 24. And for the next few decades he just kind of bummed around the party doing various odd jobs and not really making much of an impact. He did stand for leadership of the party in 2001, promising to “electrify the party”. The party replied “you’re a goddamn liar, Kenny” and elected Michael Noonan. Noonan then proceeded to drive the party straight into the brick wall that was the extremely popular Bertie Ahern. Fine Gael got slaughtered in the 2002 general election. Enda Kenny then became leader of Fine Gael, finally getting the job at a time when no one in their right mind would want it. This would be something of a theme for his career.
Kenny managed to turn the party’s fortunes around and Fine Gael made a respectable showing in the 2007 election and it actually looked like Enda Kenny might become Taoiseach to the joy of pretty much nobody. See, probably Kenny’s biggest weakness is that he tends to remind you of that pissy teacher you hated in primary school (not surprisingly, he worked as a pissy teacher for a few years before entering politics). Charismatic the dude is not, and I do remember the looks of “Oh please God no, anyone but him” on my parent’s faces when it seemed like he might win the election. However, prospective plucky sidekicks Labour and the Greens both failed to get enough seats to form a coalition government and so Bertie Ahern returned to power for his third term as Taoiseach.
*Imperial Fucking March Plays*
Things looked bleak for Enda Kenny. Fine Gael slipped in the polls and Kenny’s personal popularity was an almost Cromwellian
24%. But luck was on his side. And by “luck” I mean, “the greatest economic catastrophe in the history of the state”. The fallout from the crash of 2008 swept Kenny and Fianna Fáil to power in 2011, with Fine Gael becoming the largest party in the Dáil for the first time in forever. And so Enda Kenny became our 13th
Taoiseach, at a time when no sane person would have wanted to.
So in 2011 the situation was this:
There’s an economy that makes you want to throw your hands up and yell wheeeeeeeeeeeee!
Unemployment had tripled, the nation had lost economic sovereignty, its reputation was in tatters, the national debt was somewhere in the region of Graham’s Number
, emigration was so high you’d think the potato crop had failed and a beast came out of the sea with seven heads and ten horns uttering proud words and blasphemies.
Bad times, is what I’m sayin’.
This was the situation Enda Kenny was left to deal with, and in many ways is still dealing with. His government introduced harsh austerity measures that were and remain very unpopular. And there have definitely been serious mistakes made by both him and his government. For example, his government has continued the long, proud tradition of Fine Gael being the shoe-shine boy of billionaire tax-exile and real-life supervillain Denis O’Brien
, awarding his company GMC Sierra the contract to install water meters as part of a hugely unpopular and epically mishandled attempt to privatise the nation’s water supply (this didn’t stop O’Brien from suing the government for daring to discuss his business dealings in the Dáil). Kenny
has also been noticeably silent on Denis O’Brien’s attempts to sue and silence anybody who looks at him funny.
But…I am, as always a “big-picture” sort of rodent and in the end it comes down to Ronald Reagan’s famous question; “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” and I think the answer is a pretty unequivocal “yes”. Ireland’s economy is now the fastest growing in Europe, unemployment is finally under 10% and property prices are returning to pre-crash levels.
See, that’s the thing about that pissy primary school teacher. You hated him. But you did your homework, didn’t you?
- He delivered a scathing, blistering rebuke to the Vatican following the Cloynes report into the church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse. This speech marked the definitive end of the Holy See’s special relationship with the Irish state. Quote: “This is not Rome; nor is it industrial school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity, and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish Catholic world. This is the Republic of Ireland, 2011 — a republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities, of proper civic order, where the delinquency and the arrogance of a particular version, of a particular kind of morality, will no longer be tolerated or ignored.”
- He also issued delivered the State’s formal and long, long, long overdue apology to the victims of the Magdalene Laundries. His speech may well go down as his finest moment as Taoiseach.
- Gave himself a 7% pay cut.
- With the successful passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Gender Recognition Act, his government has now presided over the largest expansion of civil liberties in the state’s history. No small matter.
- Once dropped some N-bombs while telling a joke about murdered Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (as you do) and then proceeded to make things worse by trying to convince journalists to not report the story which of course only drew more attention to it. And then it turned out that Lumumba’s family just happened to be living in Dublin and could be asked for their opinion. What are the odds? I mean seriously, what are the odds? The only explanation I can think of is that God overheard Kenny’s joke and said “Oh, you think that’s funny? No, no. I’ll show you funny.”
- Irish Water. A public utility so colossally mismanaged that for a while there it almost brought down his entire government.
- Once campaigned on making Irish a non-compulsory subject, reasoning that children shouldn’t have to learn the language if they didn’t want to. Because why should children have to learn anything they don’t want to?
- Related to the above, appointed a minister for the Gaeltacht who couldn’t speak Irish (Chríost ar rothar).
- Most seriously, the rate of child poverty has doubled on his watch and he really needs to get on that.
- Oh, I’m sure someone in the comments section will be able to think of something.