Enda Kenny’s Bizarre Debating Tactics

February 6, 2008 at 4:30 am 4 comments

Enda Kenny

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny began yesterday’s Dail session with one of the most bizarre debating tactics that anybody could imagine, skilfully snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by briefly entering a parallel universe.

First, Kenny asked Taoiseach Bertie Ahern about the forthcoming national pay talks, the recent benchmarking report, and the recent industrial relations dispute in Aer Lingus. Ahern responded by describing the background to these issues.

Kenny followed up by focusing on the benchmarking report, contrasting the pay rise for Ministers of €38,000 to the treatment of frontline nurses. In the course of a lengthy second reply, Ahern countered that nobody, including nurses, had been promised that benchmarking would guarantee them a pay rise.

Kenny remained on the attack, again contrasting the pay rise for Ministers to the treatment of frontline nurses who work in overcrowded accident and emergency departments. How could the Taoiseach hope to manage pay expectations when Ministers had accepted such a large pay rise, he challenged?

And then, while the under-pressure Taoiseach was composing his third reply, Kenny unsheathed the metaphorical sword that would deliver the killer thrust of the debate. “I wish to ask a different question in respect of Aer Lingus”, he added ominously.

It seemed as if Kenny was going to hit Ahern with an unanswerable unified theory of the economic problems facing our social partnership, combining the forthcoming pay talks with benchmarking, Ministerial pay rises, frontline nurses, and now the recent industrial relations dispute in Aer Lingus.

Instead, this is the question that he asked: >>>

Aer Lingus

The Government owns 23% of Aer Lingus on the people’s behalf. Was it informed of an instruction given by Aer Lingus to all pilots and flight personnel to the effect that all announcements flying out of Belfast were to be made in English only?

Seriously, that is what he said. And he continued:

I raised this question with the Minister last week, who replied he had no function in the matter. While Aer Lingus no longer is the national airline in that sense, the Government is a 23% shareholder.

I fly to Brussels with Aer Lingus occasionally to attend meetings and inevitably short formal announcements are made such as, “Fáilte romhaibh chuig an mBruiséil” or whatever…

I find it extraordinary that Aer Lingus, the carrier of the shamrock throughout the world for many years, would issue an instruction to its flight personnel and pilots that all announcements are to be made in English only. Did Aer Lingus consult the Government on this matter?

Parallel Universe

It was as if Kenny had suddenly entered an alternative reality, brought on by a bout of Irish language tourettes.

It gave Ahern the opportunity to waffle on in general terms about the pay review body, answering none of the specific questions that Kenny had put to him (which were now of course forgotten), before sympathising in typical Ahern style:

Why Aer Lingus would believe it is necessary to drop Irish, I do not know. We were not informed and I do not believe it is any great hardship to anybody…

In any of the meetings I have had, I heard nobody objecting to the effect that Irish should be dropped. Maybe somebody I do not know about did so…

I agree with Deputy Kenny that Aer Lingus is the national airline and its whole profile should be based around that. I do not believe the few sentences would harm anyone and I do not believe anybody would object to them.

As an aside, Ahern was ‘agreeing with Kenny that Aer Lingus is the national airline’ even though Kenny had said the opposite: that the relevant Minister had told him last week that Aer Lingus is not any more the national airline.

But Enda Kenny had the last word in this bizarre debate.

Masla mór ar an dteanga.

Seriously, that is what he said.

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Entry filed under: Ireland, News, Politics.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rowan Manahan  |  February 6, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Truly Enda seemed to have done his training in the hara-kiri debating academy. Great post.

  • 2. blankpaige  |  February 6, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Brilliant, incisive post. I feel compelled to put the adjective “poor” in front of Enda. Mind you, I’ve grown equal part embarassed part frustrated by the FG leadership or lack thereof.

    My suspicions were confirmed at the weekend when I heard US pollster Frank Luntz describe Rudy Guiliani as “America’s answer to Enda Kenny”. This is so funny, apt in so many ways!

  • 3. John Shelby  |  February 7, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Enda Kennys intellectual capacity is a major concern. He could be another Jack Lynch.

  • 4. high health ppo insurance unity  |  January 7, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    ppo insurance unity catastrophic health unity for insurance ppo health


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


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Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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