Tag Archives: Enda Kenny

Kennedy Center “Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture”

The global celebration commemorating the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising takes center stage (several stages, actually) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. 17 May to 5 June. The “Ireland 100” festival includes dozens of performances from some of Ireland’s best contemporary musicians, dancers, and theater companies – along with other events ranging from a literature series, documentary screenings, installations and culinary arts.

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Fiona Shaw is Artist-in-Residence for the three-week festival, performing and conducting workshops with aspiring actors. Among the festival’s theater offerings are works by Irish playwrights Seán O’Casey (The Plough and the Stars) and Samuel Beckett (the radio play All That Fall), an adaptation from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake performed by Olwen Fouéré (Riverrun), and a performance installation by Enda Walsh (A Girl’s Bedroom).

“The United States and Ireland share a special relationship based on common ancestral ties and shared values,” Festival Curator Alicia Adams said. “The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts bears the name of our 35th President, who is especially revered by Ireland as a favorite son.”

See schedule details.

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, who often boasts of his Irish-American heritage, and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny are scheduled to attend the 17 May opening.

Irish election results, north and south

More than two months after an inconclusive election in the Republic of Ireland, a new minority government has been established. Enda Kenny is the first Fine Gael leader to secure successive terms as taoiseach and also is the first European premier to survive the bailout era, The Irish Times reports, adding “the race to succeed him [as party leader] is well under way.”

After suffering heavy losses in the 28 February election, Kenny and Fine Gael party returned to power with the backing of nine independent lawmakers and the cooperation its main rival, Fianna Fail, which agreed to abstain from opposition on key votes until the end of 2018. The deal emerged a week ago, and there is already speculation the arrangement will not survive.

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Enda Kenny

Here’s a look at the ministers in Kenny’s new cabinet, announced 6 May.

Northern Ireland

After two days of counting, all 108 seats have been decided in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) retained 38 seats; Sinn Féin lost one seat, dropping to 28; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was flat at 16 seats; Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) fell to 12 seats, down two; and the Alliance Party remained at eight seats. Smaller parties picked up three seats, for a total of six.

“The power of the largest parties has been maintained, while newer parties running on nicher subjects with no connection to Northern Ireland’s traditional religious divide are rapidly rising,” the London-based New Statesman said.

For example, Gerry Carroll of the anti-austerity People Before Profit topped polls in the republican heartland of West Belfast, winning the Sinn Féin constituency once held by party leader Gerry Adams. Adams moved to the Republic and was elected TD for Louth in 2011, then re-elected in February.

The Times offers full constituency results for Northern Ireland, where turnout was just below 55 percent.

Deal reached for new government in Ireland

Two months after the inconclusive general election in Ireland, the Republic’s two main political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, reached a deal 29 April that will lead to a new coalition.

Fianna Fáil has agreed to facilitate a Fine Gael minority government in a ‘political ceasefire’ between the two dominant (and historically antagonistic) political forces in the state,” The Guardian reported. “But Fianna Fáil will remain on the opposition benches in the Dáil, the Irish parliament.”

Fianna Fáil will allow Fine Gael to govern until a review of the coalition’s performance in September 2018. …

In the February election, Fine Gael, led by taoiseach Enda Kenny, lost 26 seats but it remains the largest party in the Dáil with 50 seats. Fianna Fáil made a stunning recovery from a historic low of 21 seats in the 2011 general election to 44 seats this year.

Formal ratification of the deal could come at the weekend or early next week. The agreement is likely to return Kenny to his post, making him the first Fine Gael leader returned to power.

The Irish Times offers an analysis of “the realities facing Ireland’s next government.”

The two center-right parties emerged from the divide over the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921, which partitioned Ireland into two states and caused a bitter civil war. Fianna Fáil has historically been the dominant of the two parties, but was severely punished by voters in 2011 for the country’s economic collapse. The rise of smaller parties and independent candidates also has skimmed votes from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

Developing Irish election results: “weird & fractured”

As of 3 p.m. Irish time/ 10 a.m. U.S. Eastern time, here’s what we know about the outcome of the 26 February election result:

  • With 27 of 40 constituencies complete, and 120 of 158 seats filled, it is clear that the Fine Gael/Labour coalition of the last five years will not be returned to power.
  • Fine Gael has picked up 36 seats and 25.52 percent of the first preference vote. Fianna Fáil is a close second, with 34 seats and 24.35 percent of first preference votes. There is much talk of a ‘grand coalition’  between the two rivals.
  • Sinn Féin and independent candidates each picked up 17 seats; Labour only six seats.
  • National turnout was 65 percent.
  • Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will not resign despite his government suffering a resounding defeat. He acknowledged the emerging election results were a bitter blow to his party.

Irish Times columnist Una Mullally gives this overview of the outcome.

This weird, fractured, all-over-the-place result, which took a wrecking ball to a government and then wondered what rubble could be cobbled together. It will come as a shock to some media commentators and international observers and people in big houses, that the Irish people really did not like their government. Or maybe any government. So this happened, whatever this is. …

… It’s clear that the Irish people wanted change. But a captive audience assembled and no one came on stage. So the audience booed, they heckled. Some asked for their money back, others wondered what else was on, others just went home. They dispersed, returning to familiar haunts or gave something new a shot. With no new headliner, the support acts won.

Polling and pundits forecast historic election outcome

Ireland appears to be careening toward an historic election outcome Friday. The question is: Historic in what way?

If the Fine Gael/Labour coalition of the last five years can hold, it would be the first time a Fine Gael leader is re-elected as Taoiseach for a successive term since the party was founded in 1933, The Economist notes. County Mayo native Enda Kenny leads the centre-right FG party in the role of prime minister.

But Fine Gael is treading water in the polls, and Labour is sinking. Opposition Fianna Fáil, which had a near monopoly on power in Ireland during most of the 20th century, is rebounding after being punished in the 2011 election for the country’s economic collapse. That has some pundits suggesting the once unthinkable possibility of a grand coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, which each evolved from the bitter split of Irish nationalists during the country’s civil war in the early 1920s.

In public, party leaders say this isn’t practical. They are still focused on winning Friday’s count. But if the results suggest such a coalition is the only way to move forward with a government, you can bet that private negotiations will begin immediately, even as public posturing continues.

Writing in The Irish Times, columnist Fintan O’Toole suggests that “it’s surely been clear to any objective observer that the logic of the fragmentation of Irish politics (now about 10 parties) leads, at least in the medium term, in only one direction: Fianna Gael.” He continues:

When there were two big centre-right parties carving up anything from two-thirds to three-quarters of the vote between them, it made complete sense for those parties to exaggerate their tribal differences in order to generate the sense that something huge was at stake in their tribal competition. But the space they jointly occupy has shrunk; … they now have one comfortable majority between them. If they don’t occupy that space together, it becomes a power vacuum. One can never rule out the ability of petulance, tribalism and vanity to overpower logic, but office is a great magnet.

This suggests another possibility: a “hung Dáil,” or a stalemate due to the failure of any party or bloc of parties to form a majority of newly elected TDs in government, The Irish Times explains. This could mean months of gridlock, and eventually calls for new elections.

For a super-detailed looked at the last polling before the election, see the blog of Dr. Adrian Kavanagh, Maynooth University, FF-FG or Voting Again?

Fact-checking Irish (and U.S.) elections

UPDATE: A day after our post, below, Poynter.org published a story about TheJournal.ie’s political fact-checking operation, and the Duke Reporter’s Lab also updated their global list to reflect the effort in Ireland.


It’s campaign season in Ireland. Voters are bombarded by bold statements about:

In the heated run to Ireland’s 26 February general election, the rhetoric about such issues can create more confusion than clarity, especially when delivered by office-seeking politicians. Who can sort it out?

TheJournal.ie is “testing the truth of claims made by candidates and parties on the campaign trail” by deploying fact-check or accountability journalism; described by a recent U.S. study as “news organizations producing content that is branded under a special title and rates or judges the accuracy of claims by politicians and government officials.”

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Political fact-checking organizations in America include PolitiFact.com*, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post‘s Fact Checker. They are busy with the 2016 presidential primary.

TheJournal.ie was not among 75 active fact-checking services around the world in an October update by the Duke Reporters’ Lab, though the Dublin-based website appears to have been doing such reporting since at least in 2014. Wikipedia describes the 6-year-old online-only news service as “a mixture of original and aggregated content in a manner similar to The Huffington Post.” 

(Fact Check Northern Ireland, a fledgling effort on Twitter at @FactCheckNI, does not have an active website.)

Of course, there’s also plenty of conventional and social media coverage of the Irish elections. The Irish Times is pumping out stories and analysis, plus the Inside Politics podcasts. The Irish Independent has pages of campaign reporting, including constituency profiles and a “social media wall” with tweets from @EndaKennyTD@GerryAdamsSF and other political leaders. RTÉ also offers podcasts, polls and features. And others.

Irish voters, like those in America who have to slog through a much, much longer election cycle, have no excuse for being uninformed when they go to the polls. Political fact checkers are helping sort out the truth.

*Disclosure: My lovely wife is editor of PolitiFact.com.

Irish elections set for 26 February

UPDATE: Irish Central‘s Sheila Langan notes “the stark differences between how elections play out in Ireland and the US cannot be neatly chalked off to population size and type of democracy.”

ORIGINAL POST: A national election in Ireland has been set for 26 February, “one of the shortest election campaigns in the history of the State,” RTÉ reported. Certainly quicker than the U.S.

“Bookmakers, political scientists and election number crunchers,” predict that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will become the first Fine Gael leader to win back-to-back general elections,” The Guardian said. The turnaround of the Irish economy since the last general election in 2011 is certainly in his favor.

But Fine Gael support is at 28 percent, down two points from November, in the latest Irish Times poll. Fianna Fáil, ousted from leadership in the last general election of 2011, is up 2 points at 21 percent. Full poll here, and more discussion on this Times‘ “Inside Politics” podcast:


The election date falls on a Friday, the same as in 2011, which drew 62 percent turnout. Having voters go to the polls at week’s end is thought to help with the youth turnout.

The new Irish government will resume operations on 10 March.

The compact election calendar in Ireland is a stark contrast to the long grind of the U.S. presidential campaign. Only four of 50 states will have held primary or caucus elections for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees before 26 February. Remaining primaries and caucuses are scheduled through June.

The winning nominees will not be officially named until party conventions in July. The fall general election campaign concludes with the vote on 8 November. The new president and Congress do not take office until January 2017.

Popular broadcaster Terry Wogan dies at 77

Sir Terry Wogan, a Limerick-born star of the British Broadcasting Corporation, died 31 January after a short bout with cancer. He was 77. Read the BBC’s obituary.

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In The Guardian, Martin Kettle writes that Wogan rarely drew explicit attention to his Irishness.

And yet, although he lived, worked and died in Britain, was knighted by the Queen, and was never reluctant to wave the union jack when the needs of the BBC required it, his Irishness was there whenever he opened his mouth. For more than 40 years he was probably the most prominent Irish person, and certainly the most familiar Irish voice, in Britain, rivaled for fame only by [footballer] George Best and Bono, neither of whom could match Wogan’s length of time in the spotlight.

…Whether he liked it or not, Wogan was a significant Irish presence in Britain right through the era of Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley. To some Irish nationalist eyes that may perhaps brand him as someone who made dubious accommodations with Britishness at a sensitive time. To his British listeners, however, and possibly to many of his Irish ones too, Wogan was a reminder that there was also much more to the British-Irish relationship than nationalist and loyalist politics, and that people on both sides of the Irish Sea have more in common than some of them sometimes like to pretend.

Irish Times columnist Martin Doyle wrote that “Ireland has had no finer ambassador to Britain.” Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Wogan “acted in no small way as a bridge between Ireland and Britain.”

Reconsidering Ireland’s centennial remembrances


More on the tone of centennial commemorations from Irish historian Diarmaid Ferriter in the Times: “How do you prefer our long-dead Irish Fenians? Revered or reviled?”


The recent 100th anniversary of the Dublin funeral of Fenian O’Donovan Rossa is raising tough questions about how Ireland will recognize other events in the “Decade of Centenaries,” 1912-1922. Some events are more significant, or controversial, than others.

Marie Coleman, a lecturer in Modern Irish History at Queen’s University Belfast, says she was “perplexed and concerned by the nature and extent of the [Irish] State’s official commemoration” at Glasnevin cemetery, which was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins. She writes in The Irish Times:

It was unclear whether the focus of the event was Rossa himself or the significance of the funeral as signifying the rejuvenation of republicanism as a precursor to the Easter Rising. If the former, the State’s endorsement of an archaic form of irredentist Irish nationalism will sit uncomfortably with many in 21st-century Ireland and with unionist opinion in Northern Ireland. …

I would question if either Rossa or his celebrated obsequies were of sufficient historical significance to warrant a full commemorative ceremony from the State. It would appear that the construct of the “Decade of Centenaries” has created a need to find events to commemorate every year until 2023, even if such events are not of equal significance. …

[Like other anniversaries North and South] [c]ommemorating events that predominantly involved men with guns is highly problematic in a society still going through a fragile process of conflict transformation.

The Slugger O’Toole blog also delves into this issue under the headline, “Can we ever lay 1916 to rest?” The column raises questions about remembering anniversaries associated with the violence of The Troubles in the North.

Hillary’s Northern Ireland chats revealed in email dump

The latest batch of government email from Hillary Clinton’s private server contains several strands of conversation about Northern Ireland.

The Irish Times reports that Clinton, as Secretary of State in 2009, passed on participating in a panel discussion about the North after first saying it was “a good idea.” The panel was being hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative, the family foundation she runs with her husband, the former president, and daughter. It was to feature Irish and Northern Irish officials. Clinton bowed out of the event after an aide suggested her appearance might be perceived as a conflict.

In another conversation, the 2016 Democratic presidential front runner express her glee that Co. Tipperary businessman Declan Kelly received a State Department security clearance to serve as her economic envoy to Northern Ireland. Kelly runs the New York public relations and corporate advisory firm Tenco with  Doug Band, a former adviser to Bill Clinton.

Clinton used a private account during her State Department tenure to shield her email from public record requests. A U.S. judge ordered the State Department to release the emails in batches every 30 days until all 55,000 pages she gave to the agency in December are released.

One other note on U.S.-Irish relations: Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny. They discussed the Irish economic recovery, immigration reform including the plight of the undocumented Irish in the U.S., and the situation in the North, according to the Times.

Boehner was accompanied to Dublin by seven members of Congress.