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Enda Kenny absolutely loves talking about the people he meets

The Taoiseach meets a lot of people who tell him a lot of things.

ENDA KENNY’S PENCHANT for story-telling has come under the spotlight this week after he recalled being warned by the Central Bank governor about the possibility of needing the army to guard ATMs.

Speaking in Madrid on Thursday, Kenny said that Patrick Honohan had warned that banks and ATMs may need to be manned by the army if the government introduced capital controls during the financial crisis.

The story has become a staple of Kenny’s public remarks in recent weeks. He’s repeated it three times this month alone, though some have questioned its veracity.

But whether it is true or not there’s no doubt the Taoiseach likes to tell stories.

screenshot.1445613260.94707 Source: www.thejournal.ie

His reputation for story-telling focuses quite a bit on people he meets and what they tell him. As he told delegates at the EPP conference in Madrid this week:

I walk to work, meet the bus men, the taxi drivers, the ordinary people. On the streets, they tell me things that others might not tell me.

Kenny has met hundreds of people over the last few years. Here are just a few examples of what he told them and they told him…

1. The woman who drove from Cavan 

When he was leader of the opposition, Kenny criticised deficiencies in the public transport system and recalled meeting a woman from Cavan:

I met a woman this morning who had driven from County Cavan for an appointment in the Mater hospital. She had no bus transport and eventually got a taxi in order to get to her appointment.

2. The man on the building site 

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Speaking in the Dáil a few months after entering office, Kenny said he had been delighted to turn the sod on a major site in Mahon, Co Cork and recalled meeting a man on the site:

The American company involved expects to double its workforce here. A man on the site said to me on that day: ‘It’s great to hear the sound of buckets rattling round this site again.’ That is the type of expression of confidence we must get back.

3. The Fianna Fáil TD with three blocks in his boot 

In 2012, Kenny told Timmy Dooley about his meeting with a Fianna Fáil TD:

It is a long time since I met a Fianna Fáil Deputy travelling with three concrete blocks in the boot of the car to start the school long before it was announced.

4. The man who was Michael Healy-Rae

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In December 2012, Kenny told the Dáil about meeting Kerry South TD Micheal Healy-Rae:

The Deputy is looking well since I met him in the street in Killarney.

5. The supporters of Gerry Adams 

That same month, Kenny told Gerry Adams about meeting Sinn Féin supporters while he was out canvassing with Paschal Donohoe:

I was in Phibsboro last Saturday with Deputy Paschal Donohoe when I met some of Deputy Gerry Adams’s supporters on the street who were handing out leaflets attacking the Labour Party, but these supporters were not able to answer any question about any of the issues mentioned on the leaflets regarding the fantasy economics in which Sinn Féin was engaged.

6. The supporters of Richard Boyd-Barrett

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Two years ago, Kenny spoke about meeting with supporters of People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett in Killiney, telling the Dún Laoghaire deputy:

I met some of his supporters in Killiney the other night, but I could not understand what they were saying. I understand they were operating on his instructions. They were a sort of clearing house group under the trees.

7. The young man from Waterford 

In 2013, Kenny told the Dáil about a young man who emigrated but had since come home to start his own business:

I met a young man in Waterford the other day who went to Australia, worked for 14 months doing two and three jobs when he could, came back with €100,000 and set up his own business, and he was very happy to do so. It was his choice to earn money where he could, do two or three jobs where he could get them and come back with that intention.

Irish General Election Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

8. The young mother 

Last year, Kenny recalled meeting a young mother while out canvassing:

She had three children under five and she cried bitter tears in that she had been sent to a very small apartment with inadequate facilities in an area that is used by drug pushers and drug users. It was a very powerful statement made by this young mother.

9. The homeless man whose sleeping bag he looked after

At the height of the homelessness crisis last Christmas, Kenny recalled going on the streets to meet homeless people, saying in the cold and rain he met “alcoholics, drug addicts and returned immigrants”. Speaking about one person he met, he said:

Some of them shook my hand and a young man thanked me for looking after his sleeping bag while he went to find and use facilities nearby. There were men and women with addiction, heroin addicts, people on methadone and so on. They were still able to find a kind word. They said: “I have to rob, I have to beg; I need this to keep me going. Do you understand me?” I do, to an extent.

10. The man with two pints

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Perhaps the most famous meeting of them all, Kenny told the Dáil on 1 April (of all days!) this year about a man he met with two pints in his hand:

The man who stopped me with the two pints in his hand last week shouting about the cost of water that he could not pay. I said to him [that] what he was holding in his hands would pay for water for him – because I know him – for nearly ten weeks.

11. The homeless man in Merrion Square 

Last, but not least, at the Fine Gael presidential dinner a week ago, Kenny told of having met a homeless man in Merrion Square in Dublin city centre:

I went for a little walk today around Merrion Square. Inside I sat on a bench for 20 minutes with a homeless man who told me his story – from England, to here, to where he is now – it was a heart-wrenching story I have to say.

He went on to say that the man had been working to improve his position and that, “he is almost there with the work that he has taken on personally that he is doing.”

With an election coming up, we’re sure Kenny will be meeting a lot more people in the coming months.

Read: Enda Kenny sat on a bench with a homeless man for 20 minutes this weekend

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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