Sunday

21st Apr 2019

Ireland: Enda Kenny's last shindig

  • Kenny at the White House in 2012 (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

The Irish state has opened an inquiry into a police scandal in what marks the final chapter of Enda Kenny’s reign as taoiseach.

The Charleton Tribunal, launched on Monday (27 February), is to investigate allegations that a police whistleblower was the victim of a high-level smear campaign.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Trump protectionism could cause economic shock (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

Sergeant Maurice McCabe first complained about malpractice in serious crime investigations about 10 years ago.

His revelations fell on deaf ears and he was slandered as a sexual predator, with Ireland’s police commissioner, who had called McCabe “disgusting”, forced to resign in the affair.

Kenny, among other irregularities in run-up to the Charleton inquiry, gave “inaccurate information” to the Irish parliament, something which he later admitted to in a “mea culpa”.

The fiasco further harmed his ability to lead his party and country at a time of uncertainty.

The Irish peace process and its economic future have been put under a question mark by Brexit.

US trade protectionism under Donald Trump could also cause a shock.

Kenny’s centre-right party, Fine Gael (FG), had already returned mixed results in last February’s election.

An Irish cabinet member, who asked not to be named, told EUobserver that there was an anti-Kenny bloc in FG that wanted “fresh-thinking” even before his Charleton performance.

Losing credibility

Kenny’s handling of the situation saw Sinn Fein, the second largest opposition party, trigger a vote of no confidence in the government.

Even FG deputies admitted that Kenny had failed to give a “clear account of what happened".

"I didn’t keep a proper count, but there were around eight, 10, or 12 changes in the sequences of events told to us,” one Fine Gael MP, who also asked not to be named, told EUobserver.

Kenny relied on an abstention by Fianna Fail, the main opposition party, to scrape through by 57 votes to 52, but lost so much credibility that calls rang out for him to go.

Last Wednesday, the FG held internal talks to give him an opportunity to fall on his sword.

Last shindig

According to sources at the meeting, Kenny raised the issue first.

The 65-year old said that he had “been around for 42 years” (he is the longest-ever serving MP) and that he had “no interest” in “motions of no confidence, caucuses, and veiled threats” about his future.

He promised to announce his resignation no later than one month after St. Patrick’s Day on 17 March.

That timeline would see him take part in one last Irish-US “shindig” - an annual party at the White House.

It would also see him become Fine Gael’s longest-ever serving taoiseach if he stayed on a little later until 20 April.

“He was never going to give a date arising from demands of back-benchers. He would never dance to that tune”, another FG deputy told EUobserver.

“He said enough to save face … it gave the impression that he was in control of his destiny,” the MP added.

Succesion battle

The FG’s internal succession talks have favoured two candidates: the minister for social protection, Leo Varadkar (36), and the minister for housing, Simon Coveney (44).

Meanwhile, Irish pundits and TV shows are already writing Kenny’s political obituary.

His fans point to his battles at EU summits to secure an interest cut on the EU and International Monetary Fund’s €85 billion bailout back in 2010.

They also note that his departure comes after Irish employment figures bounced back to their best level since the financial crisis.

“He got Ireland out the bailout and back on our feet,” an FG deputy said.

That achievement was “nothing too prosaic”, the MP said.

Gay, under-40 politican to rule Ireland

Leo Varadkar said his election as leader of the ruling part was an "unlikely story". He assured he would stick to the EU position in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Irish unification on voters' minds

The question of whether to hold a post-Brexit referendum on a united Ireland is dominating Thursday's elections in the North.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us