Wednesday 13 December 2017

Now Kenny calls in new PR to save him

A SOUTH county Dublin PR guru is being hired to "drag the culchie" out of Enda Kenny.

The underfire Fine Gael leader, who senior party sources say is just days from an internal execution, will employ Mark Mortell for three days a week.

Mr Kenny's approval rating is at a significant low and he has failed to make any ground despite Taoiseach Brian Cowen's Garglegate scandal.

In a bid to prolong his life as party leader, Mr Kenny has dished out jobs for the rebels ahead of a potentially tense parliamentary meeting tomorrow.

The main opposition party is also set to appoint a communications consultant as an advisor to Mr Kenny in an effort to improve his public image.

As Fine Gael continues to crank up its preparations for a general election, it has hired head of consulting at public relations and lobbying firm Fleishmann Hillard of Mark Mortell as a political advisor.

Mr Mortell - who presents a weekly radio show on Newstalk - will work for Fine Gael two to three days a week.

The appointment comes as Mr Kenny announced details of 23 new jobs for his backbench TDs, including most of those who were sidelined after June's botched heave attempt.

It means just eight of his Dail members are now without a specific role or responsibility.

Supporters of the party leader hope that the appointments will help quell rumours of a fresh coup attempt.

Among those brought back into the fold are Olivia Mitchell, Brian Hayes and Denis Naughten, Billy Timmins and Michael Creed who were part of the so-called Green Isle Nine that plotted against Mr Kenny.

Laois/Offaly's Owlyn Enright is the only one of the nine not to be given a portfolio but she has already announced her intention to step back from politics at the next election.

Of the seven other TDs who were left out yesterday, three have Oireachtas committee or parliamentary party responsibilities.

Seymour Crawford and Jim O'Keeffe told Mr Kenny that they did not want extra responsibility, while PJ Sheehan recently resigned as a junior spokesperson after being embroiled in a drink-drive row.

There was some confusion today over the position of maverick TD John Deasy who claims not to been offered a position, even though Fine Gael HQ says he was.

The appointments will be formally confirmed at a meeting of the parliamentary party tomorrow, which is also likely to see some discussion on Fine Gael's disappointing poll ratings.

The party's Seanad leader Frances Fitzgerald said today that people would rally around the leader. "This is a time for us to work together to build that up," she said.

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