25 February 2017
So Enda goes to Washington with his bowl of shamrock and then he will kindly tell us when he will depart, but it will likely be after Easter so he can get past his birthday, and become the longest serving Fine Gael Taoiseach. I don’t wish to be uncharitable but this sounds like being more about Enda and not necessarily about the interests of the nation. Then, of course, Enda has to be there for the initiation of the Brexit talks after the British government invokes Article 50. Enda, you see, has great contacts in Europe and is a skilled negotiator. Remember what a horlicks he made of renegotiating our national debt. Yes, the man did do the State some service but please let’s get a bit of perspective here. Whether he likes it or not, Enda is a lame duck and this government is becoming a dead duck. Micheal Martin is just biding his time.
At this stage I don’t know who the next leader of Fine Gael is going to be, as both the leading contenders, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar have their merits. The conventional wisdom suggests the longer the campaign lasts the more likely Coveney is to have the edge. However, I want to focus on another aspect to all of this. Who is going to be the next Minister for Finance. Now it is possible that the next leader of Fine Gael might well choose to keep Michael Noonan in place. He is genuinely respected in the corridors of power and has a certain presence when he participates in critical meetings. Believe me, there are choppy waters ahead and he adds gravitas to the Irish government’s position. It would be fair to say that Enda Kenny would probably not still be Taoiseach without him.
However, if a new leader wants to dispense with his services, there is, in my view, a natural successor in the form of Pascal Donohoe, the current Minister for Public Expenditure. Now, frankly speaking, I feel Donohoe would actually make a damn good Taoiseach and I think it is a shame he has ruled himself out. Of course, in a leadership race, all sorts of things happen and he may come charging through the middle but if not I hope the winner has the sense to earmark him for Finance.
Now if you are worried about Brexit and Trump let me add to your concerns. I am increasingly of the view that Marine Le Pen could become the next President of France. The markets are starting to take that view and if that happens the euro could implode. By God, then we want a steady hand on the tiller. So Enda, please go with dignity and let us steady the ship.