Last night, RTÉ aired the first of its two-part documentary on Ireland’s leader Enda Kenny. In case you missed it, it’s featured on the RTE Player here, and the second and final episode will be shown tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.
The programme has sparked rumours about the future of Kenny’s political career since filming began in the summer. Even the official RTÉ description of the programme explicitly mentions the ‘twilight’ of Kenny’s work-life:
“As he reaches the twilight of his long political career, this major new two-part documentary series goes behind the headlines to examine the enigma that is Enda Kenny, charting the remarkable rise and fall, and rise again, of Fine Gael's first leader to win successive terms as Taoiseach.”
Last night’s episode was entitled Enda: Last Man Standing, while tonight’s is called Enda: Staying Power. For people in the west, particularly Mayo, Kenny is a controversial character. Public opinion towards the Castlebar man is often divided, but his back-to-back terms as Taoiseach indicate that he’s doing something along the lines of right.
Considering Kenny took the reigns of the Republic just after the full effects of the Recession hit our doors in 2011, he’s been praised as making the best out of a bad situation (notably by his own campaign, which strived to ‘keep the recovery going’. By default, they must believe that a definite recovery happened, and that they were the cause of it).
The ambiguity of Kenny’s political career is rationalised and debated within the programme, and the broadcaster’s description even shows a certain disbelief at how Kenny could have made it this far:
“A new documentary series tells the remarkable story of his rise from obscure Mayo TD to national leader in a time of crisis. Dismissed as a lightweight by his opponents, hailed by his allies as a man of steel, Kenny is the Taoiseach that few people can claim to really know,” explains RTÉ.
Kenny is the only Taoiseach to ever start out as a Mayo TD, and a quick look at Ireland’s history of political leaders shows that the west hasn’t been particularly strongly represented over the years when it comes to the coveted seat. Albert Reynolds is the only Taoiseach to have previously represented a Connacht constituency. It’s no wonder that rural Ireland can often feel neglected in the grand scheme of things, with the majority of Taoiseachs beginning their political careers as TDs for Dublin.
The programme will explore what we know about Enda Kenny, and it’s presented by Pat Leahy. According to RTÉ, it will include ‘revealing contributions from Enda Kenny's closest associates, cabinet ministers - present and past - and his political rivals’.
Let us know what you think of the show and Enda Kenny himself on our Facebook and Twitter. Do you think he has successfully represented his people, particularly those in agriculture?