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'They're now free spirits': Taoiseach on RA rebels, Seanad and his future

Enda Kenny gave a wide-ranging interview to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning. Here’s what he said.

Enda Kenny with Lucinda Creighton in happier times.
Enda Kenny with Lucinda Creighton in happier times.
Image: Cathal McNaughton/PA Archive/Press Association Images

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY gave a wide-ranging interview to RTE’s Morning Ireland on a number of issues that have been in the spotlight in recent days.

Speaking to Cathal McCoille at the Fine Gael think-in in Laois, Enda Kenny was asked about the Reform Alliance of expelled Fine Gael TDs, the Seanad referendum, Priory Hall, a reshuffle and more.

Here’s a summary of what he said…

On the 5-a-side backbenchers

Asked about the group of backbench Fine Gael TDs who have been outspoken on budgetary and other matters, Kenny said that “everybody in the parliamentary party is fully entitled to debate these issues” but pointed to the “internal sustem within the party” which allows for discussion and debate.

He said he wants “everyone on the one pitch here” but insisted that he welcomed debate describing it as “very healthy and I encourage that”.

On the Reform Alliance of expelled TDs

The Taoiseach said that during the recent debate on the abortion bill “a sizeable number of TDs” said they were going to vote for the bill because they had signed up to the Fine Gael pledge but said they did not want to “see people [who voted against the bill] inside of here walking back in short time”.

He said it was “very difficult for people to ever consider” that the rebels, expelled over the abortion vote, would come back into the fold and said “this party will have more than sufficient candidates to stand” in future elections.

“They’re now free spirits and if they wish to continue in that line that’s their business,” he said of the Reform Alliance.

On the Seanad referendum

He said that the upper house is “minority” and “discriminatory” and does not have any constitutional responsibility to hold the government to account. Kenny said that it had been “hijacked by the political process, my party included” during its existence and said he wanted to see it abolished.

On accusations of ducking a debate with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on the Seanad, Kenny said that debates can be had in the Dáil “the most public forum in the land”.

On Priory Hall

Kenny said that he has spoken to Stephanie Meehan, whose partner Fiachra Daly took his own life, and “made the point to her that I regarded Priory Hall as the worst of the excesses of the so-called Celtic years”.

He said that the situation needed to be dealt with “switfly, clearly and effectively” and said he understood that none of the former residents “want to go back to Priory Hall again”.

On a banking inquiry

The Taoiseach said that the issue was “difficult and very complex” in light of the Oireachtas inquiries referendum being defeated two years ago. He said an inquiry would be “limited now with not being able to find fault”.

“I would say government will consider this in the next couple of weeks and see what decision we can make,” he added.

On the future of John Perry

On the Minister of State’s settlement with Danske Bank, Kenny said that Perry’s “tax compliancy is now clear”. He added: “I am satisfied he can do his job as Minister of State”. If Perry wants to publicly state the details of his settlement with the bank “that’s a matter for him and the bank”.

On reshuffle and job swap

Enda Kenny added that a Cabinet reshuffle would happen before the next general election and would be “a matter we’ll consider in due course”. He said that he was “flattered” to be linked to the job of European Commission president but added that intends to fulfill his mandate.

Listen to the full interview on the Morning Ireland website >

Enda Kenny: ‘I feel the people’s pain’

Martin: This government rammed through bills and it’s an abuse of its position

Read: Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil think-ins to conclude today

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Hugh O'Connell

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