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Eamon Keane: Enda has hit the 3-week itch in our relationship with him -- can he halt it?

What do the earthquake in Japan, time off for Christmas shopping and a pint in Houricans have in common?

They signal the three-week itch in our relationship with Enda Kenny.

In marriage, the seven-year itch is defined as the time when the married parties get bored or browned off with each other.

Our seduction and subsequent betrothal to Enda on March 9 has hit the three-week itch. And it happened in a way none of us saw coming.

The earthquake in Japan left after-shocks beyond the region. In Germany, Angela Merkel has just lost a crucial state election to the Green Party. She was seen as being opportunistic in coming out with anti-nuclear statements and in temporarily closing one facility.

Amid the now heightened fears over nuclear power, German voters just don't believe her. Angela stands weakened and faces threats from within her party.

So Enda's best new euro-mate is vulnerable. His chance of using his limited influence as a VP of the European People's Party Alliance now looks flaky. We were told by Enda that Angie understood us. Now we are not so sure that a) she even cares and b) would dare back us against hardline elements in her party when she is so domestically weak.

Enda's second problem involves civil servants' time off to cash cheques, do Christmas shopping, watch Cheltenham or take World Cup leave. I exaggerate the perks some civil servants enjoy. However, recently the Civil Service Arbitration Board ruled that privilege days could not be scrapped.



hurdle

Enda promised us the public sector would be reformed. Now it appears he cannot deliver at the very first hurdle. Even if Enda had made progress there he would have still been undone by a pint.

On All Ireland day in 1995, Michael Lowry and Denis O Brien had a pint in Houricans pub and then another in Hartigans. That pint has been imbued with so much importance that it now threatens to spill over and spoil Enda's honeymoon. Last Tuesday came the bombshell Moriarty Report.

Now, as we hear in Dail debates, it has become a major headache for Fine Gael. There is the small matter of the $50,000 cheque from ESAT which FG eventually returned.

Then there is the issue of The Tipperary One. Michael Lowry, with a neck tougher than any Tipp jockey's you-know-what, has tried unsuccessfully to portray himself as a victim.

A weekend poll shows the Irish public just don't believe any of the parties' denials.

The danger for Enda is to be damned by association.

Enda's chef de Cabinet Mark Kennelly was Lowry's advisor at the time of the licence episode. There is no suggestion whatsoever that Mark had any knowledge of the dark side of the licence award.

However, Enda promised us a new era and, though it may be unfair, any link to Lowry sits uncomfortably with us.

Expect the opposition to target Phil Hogan's evidence as well.

Like any relationship they say you should spot the warning signs early.

Is the above constellation of events reason for us to break it off?

Or are they mere teething problems, the likes of which beset all new relationships?

The key will be in how Enda deals with them.

I remember the mad rush in the Dail to censure Liam Lawlor when he fell foul of a Tribunal. Enda has been a tad more hesitant with Lowry.

Why?

You see, either Enda is the real deal or the best constructed PR job in history. I like to think he is the former, but he needs to be clear and decisive.

Otherwise, this itch could turn into a nasty running sore.

Blog www.citizenkeane.ie twitter@eamonbkeane