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'The Saudi sun must have got to Mr Kenny': 6 winners and 6 losers from the political week

You win some, you lose some…

Enda Kenny in Saudi Arabia this week
Enda Kenny in Saudi Arabia this week
Image: Photocall Ireland/GIS

EVERY WEEK, TheJournal.ie casts its eye over events inside and outside Leinster House that have got people talking.

As the saying goes: ‘You win some, you lose some.’

So here are our political winners and losers from the past seven days:

The 6 winners of the week are…

1. Michael Noonan

The European Finance Minister of the Year has overseen “extraordinary progress” since taking over in 2011 according to the FT’s ‘The Banker’ magazine which this week showered him with praise. What a turnaround from 2010 when Noonan’s predecessor, Brian Lenihan, was named the continents’s worst.

image2. Mary Hanafin

The former Fianna Fáil minister will not be prevented from seeking the party’s nomination to run for the Dáil in 2016. Of course, neither she nor Micheál Martin would say that she could or should be stopped, but the fact the party leader came across as open to the possibility this week means it will be an interesting battle out in Dun Laoghaire in two years’ time.

3. Brian Walsh

Seemingly banished to the political wilderness last summer, the Galway West TD could be set to rejoin Fine Gael in contrast to his fellow abortion rebels in the Reform Alliance. As TheJournal.ie revealed last October, Walsh’s motives are far from clear but for the time being it looks like he wants and has a good chance of being back in the biggest parliamentary party in the country soon.

4. Richard Haass

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It would be easy for the US diplomat to have headed back to the US and have nothing more to do with the process in Northern Ireland that failed to get an agreement on flags, parades and the past.

But even from across the Atlantic he kept up the pressure this week, appearing to criticise those who are, in his words, “unrealistic in the extreme”. Will this spur the parties towards agreement or at least further talks?

5. Phil Prendergast

The Labour MEP is already coming under pressure, even internally, to retain her Ireland South seat in the European Parliament but she got onto a big potential vote-winner this week when she hit-out at Enda Kenny over his comments linking pylons to emigration.

Prendergast already has a public meeting in the works and was putting forward her reasons for opposition on these pages during the week. An electorally savvy move.

image6. Richard Bruton

We’ve addressed the other issues arising out of the government’s trade mission to the Gulf below, but credit where credit is due to the Jobs Minister who came back from the region, along with the Taoiseach, with nearly 100 jobs in the bag and some €65 million in investment in Enterprise Ireland companies.

A good start to the year further boosted by another fall in unemployment while Bruton and and co were meeting the sheikhs.

… and the 6 losers of the week are…

1. Enda Kenny and the Irish government

The Taoiseach failed miserably at both raising and addressing in the media the issue of human rights on visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE this week.

Of course it was primarily a trade mission but that should not have prevented him from bringing it up and it’s become clear he did not, beyond congratulating Saudi for its election to the UN Human Rights Council. The Tánaiste argues it is through this vehicle that such issues are raised by that’s not good enough for the likes of Amnesty.

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2. Enda Kenny

We’re sorry to say the Taoiseach is in again for his comments about pylons. In attempting to link them to job creation he brought up emigration, which drew much condemnation and criticism from parliamentarians on his own side of the house.

“A gaffe in the Gulf,” is how Labour’s John Whelan, who’s not shy of criticising ministers, described it. Unlike so many other weeks, this one has not been good for Enda on the PR front.

3. Eamon Gilmore

The Tánaiste was full of beans when he greeted reporters at the BT Young Scientist Awards this week but he won’t have been encouraged by yet more Labour councillor resignations this week.

The departure of South Dublin mayor Dermot Looney will be disappointing to many in the party who had hopes for him but saw it as inevitable given his criticism of the government in recent years. It’s now 29 councillors who have left Labour since it went into government.

image4. Donegal county councillors

By tomorrow night, the councillors in Donegal could be out of the job with their task of formulating a budget handed over to a Phil Hogan-appointed civil servant. Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are delaying the budget in protest over water charges but either way the county needs its estimates for the year so that services can be provided and the government will ensure that gets done one way or another.

5. Phil Hogan

Poor ‘Big Phil’ has been the government whipping boy for unpopular policies such as the household charge and property tax and now it’s set to get worse. The Environment Minister is going to take a lot of heat for water charges when people start getting their bills and they were reminded of that with the controversy over consultants at Irish Water this week.

While his defence of the €50 million may well be valid it’s not popular and neither is he. Little wonder the Fine Gael heavyweight is being linked with that plum European Commissioner job later this year.

image6. Jimmy Deenihan

The Limerick City of Culture debacle may be old news now but the Arts Minister did himself no favours when he admitted he wasn’t across the problems in there until he read it in the papers.

“Had I known that Karl Wallace was thinking of resigning, I would have picked up the phone and talked to him,” Deenihan told RTÉ last weekend. Well as the minister in charge he really should have.

Pics: Photocall Ireland/Press Association

Like politics? Then why not ‘Like’ TheJournal.ie’s Politics page?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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