Is Enda Kenny about to become the next Irish politician to jump aboard the gravy train to Brussels?The media has been full of speculation about the Taoiseach possibly take the job of European Council President. The job is vacant from December 2014 and rumour has it that our dear leader has been earmarked for the job by the powers that be in Brussels . Coincendentally, these stories bear a striking resemblance to the ‘Bertie Ahern is off to Europe’ stories that followed the last Irish Presidency in 2004.
The rationale behind the deluge of recent speculation seems to be that the Taoiseach buoyed from a succesful stint leading the six month Irish Presidency has got the taste for European diplomacy. After all why would he pass up the opportunity of hobnobbing on the international stage to stay in Dublin saving James Reilly’s well-padded posterior?
Those who assume that Kenny will be tempted by a convenient ‘exit stage right moment’ fail to understand the scale of the ambitions that lies behind the genial smile. Kenny did not fight a guerilla war against those who tried to depose him as leader of Fine Gael in 2010 to step aside before he has a chance to write himself into the history books . Those close to the Taoiseach are telling anyone that will listen of his desire to replace Fianna Fáil as the natural party of Government by becoming the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to win back-to-back elections.
Perhaps the increased speculation is evidence that ambitious Fine Gaelers such as Brian Hayes and Simon Coveney are beginning to get worried that the Taoiseach maybe around for some time to come. Coveney et al maybe right because why would Kenny step away from the job with such an opportunity in front of him? Will we see a Taoiseach Kenny working with a SF Tánaiste post 2016 or perhaps Kenny will be reflecting on what might have been as he looks across at Taoiseach Michéal Martin? Interesting times lie ahead.