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A Taoiseach, a bottle-bank and an election

On the Edge

Áine Ryan

A Taoiseach, a bottle-bank and an election


Áine Ryan

SO The Sunday Times’ official acerbic observer thinks it is funny to skit at our Enda because he opened a bottle-bank in Castlebar last week. Okay, Atticus, we did laugh at your witty observations here in the wild west outlands of Mayo too.
(But we still say, Bertie beats him in the stakes for attending the opening of envelopes, particularly brown ones.)  
And, yes, you are correct, it has become increasingly clear, from On the Edge’s Inbox, that the Taoiseach has had an electoral epiphany about his home turf and the fact that he needs to start buying his cans of Lilt on Main Street, Castlebar, and in the travelling shop (it’s an endangered species, we hear) up in Erris. Because, yes, it would be embarrassing if his loyal lieutenant, over the road in Westport, Michael Ring, topped the poll after all the sacrifices Mr Kenny has made on behalf of the people of Ireland.  
You would need to be up very early in the morning, long before the hen ruffles her feathers, to outdo Mr Ring in his ability to welcome and attend every cockfight that happens along the boreens and byways of his sprawling dynasty.

Ring PR machine
AS observed previously by On the Edge, whether it is an appointment in Belmullet or the raising of a green flag in a school in Louisburgh or Newport, Michael Ring, will endeavour to be there to press the flesh – even if it causes a semblance of bi-location, his schedule is so busy.
His slick PR machine will have lauded the development with so much efficiency and verve that he may as well have spun the cloth for the flag himself.  There has been no hiatus in the Minister for State at the Department of Tourism and Sport’s dedication to his constituents. If he had a moustache, you could call him the Willie O’Dea of Mayo.
You see Ring is ahead of the posse, he gets that fact that the old-style politics of attending funerals and weddings (even rainbow ones), communions and barmitzvahs (we’re multi-ethnic now across the Shannon) is not enough if you don’t publicise it.
The PR machine has replaced the bucket of a tractor or the trailer of a lorry for vote-getting. The litany of changes brought about by the digital media revolution, compounded by the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, means newspapers, even independently-owned ones like The Mayo News, rely on the reams of emails that arrive each week from those vested interests who can afford to employ Public Relations gurus.

Double-edge of PR
A powerful person, like our Taoiseach, for example, has access to an army of spin-machinists. So, last Christmas, it seems, when he had time to draw a breath, and have respite from the dominatrix demands of Angela Merkel et al, he had an epiphany (or maybe it was a bad dream) about PR. This time it was about the treachery of Proportional Representation though, I imagine. Our Enda has been on the edge of his seat more than once in that bear pit that is the TF Royal Theatre count centre.  
So, as noted by Atticus in last week’s Sunday Times, earlier this year he appointed a new Mayo-based personal aide, whose task was to liaise with local press. One of his first moves was to invite the editors of the local press to lunch with the Taoiseach.  

Atticus cartoon  
THERE was a cartoon appended to the Atticus piece in The Sunday Times. It depicted the ‘Enda Kenny Bottle Bank’ and had two recyclers. One of them said: “He wouldn’t open a regular bank, they’re too dodgy.” Lol!  
But let’s not forget in the coming months, as the election miasma machine oils up and clogs our airwaves and inboxes, that it was you and me, who bailed out a country bankrupted by rich and greedy developers and bankers. And let’s remember that the root-and-branch political reform promised to us – the ordinary punters who struggle to pay our bills each week - has not happened yet.
Why? Government is too busy ignoring the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal, obfuscating about Fine Gael’s historic relations with billionaire Denis O’Brien and doing u-turns about the Siteserv debacle.
Give me a break!