Taoiseach – all in the eye of the beholder?

Taoiseach Enda KennyEnda Kenny has become Taoiseach. Election results and recent polls suggest that the vast majority of Irish citizens regard him as being more than up to the task. His handling of the first set of Leader’s Questions has received generally positive media coverage.

This is in sharp contrast to earlier perceptions of Enda Kenny as being unsuitable, including, as late as December 2010*, when a third of Fine Gael voters expressed a preference for Eamon Gilmore as Taoiseach. Only six months previously, nine members of the Fine Gael front bench didn’t have confidence in him to lead the party into the General Election. The generally held belief, by most media commentators, that Kenny was a “lame duck” leader was accentuated in Vincent Browne’s ill-advised suggestion involving a darkened room, a bottle of whiskey and a revolver.

Enda was accused, by those supporting Richard Bruton, that he didn’t “connect” with the electorate; that he was a poor media performer; that he wasn’t good on policy detail. Kenny’s political obituary has been written and re-written many times in recent years. Commentators have, more recently, damned him with faint praise as being “more Chairman, than Chief”.

Not only have the reports of Enda’s demise been greatly exaggerated, but it would appear that despite the misgivings of many, the public have already warmed to the notion, now reality, of Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Perhaps Enda has changed beyond recognition since he was written off as Taoiseach material, or perhaps the perception of Taoisigh is in the eye of the beholder?

*Red C poll 13-15 Dec 2010

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