Open Letter to Richard Bruton,

Dear Richard,

Politics is a cruel trade as Fergus Finlay entitled his novel paraphrasing Lord Halifax who stated “State business is a cruel trade”. I am in politics to change this country so that people will be treated fairly and openly and that the weak are protected from the law of the jungle.

Back in the late 1960s I realised that Blaney, Boland, Haughey and the TACA mob were intent on purloining this country towards their own ends. However, three decent men lead the main parties Jack Lynch, Liam Cosgrave and Brendan Corish. The country, not themselves, came first. They did not exchange personal bitterness or barbed ambiguities. Hubris, overwhelming personal ambition and lack of humility are some of the attributes of many of the main political players in this country to-day.

Richard, when I meet Enda Kenny, I recognise a focused, honest, decent man with an open welcoming demeanour. I descend from a rural background of tenant farmers and emigrants in Clare – Sextons, Hills, Rochfords, Crowleys back to 1790s. My Tormey grandparents from Westmeath landed on Ellis Island in September 1912 but came back. That family were the progeny of Dunnes, McManus, Kenny’s, Murtaghs, Keegans, My family were on both sides in the great divide. Some answered Redmond’s call and six were killed in France.
Others were killed in IRA operations and another in Ballykinlar camp by the British Army. The Civil War was never mentioned at home for obvious reasons. I am a descendent of the plain people of Ireland. “Some of us done good”.

Richard, it takes a hell of a man to be have it all. Nobody is perfect. Who but Kenny would have sacrificed his life to rebuilding a party for decent people? The guy must be dizzy criss-crossing the country to visit people and support constituency branches and organisations across Ireland. And boy, did he get results. You know them better than me. It is too trite to list them here.

Richard, do you have the charisma to command a room when you enter it? Do you have the body language and empathy to engage sincerely with the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, boys and girls of Ireland? Kenny is natural not awkward; empathic not phony.

Enda appointed you to be the Finance Spokesman for Fine Gael on the front bench. Fine Gael let you direct this policy to the degree that the former TD George Lee, who fancies himself in the money area, seemed to feel excluded from the inner circle to the extent of apparent disorientation.
Did you freeze out the Dublin South boy? Enda did not hog the limelight on the economy. You got the exposure, the credit and the attendant status. He encouraged you to develop your ideas and grow them into policies and positions. I believe that your position on benchmarking, NAMA and on the banks has been proven correct. I have said that on my website contemporaneously. Did you storm back when Garret and Alan gave you welly on your bank plan? No! Or it must have been a very quiet storm because the two lads weren’t exactly knocked over by the force of your retaliation or verbal repost, even though you were correct!

So why did you try to vaporize Enda on the Six One News Yesterday on RTE?

Richard, you said that there is a pressing need for someone with financial expertise at the helm. “We are facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions and people have been looking to see can Enda present a convincing case that he can manage the economic problem…. And I think he has been found wanting on that.”

Richard, have you analysed or parsed your own statement? Enda made you the ‘numero uno’ on the economy. So unless you are now tacitly acknowledging that you have failed (and you haven’t), that was a fairly low blow. You’re lucky the media did not notice the contradiction.

Richard, you also said that problems with Enda’s leadership surfaced on many occasions before the latest disastrous poll. “There are many opinion polls and many ratings of his leadership and many occasions in which he has faltered at crucial times to establish the faith that is necessary.”

Richard, that comment invites the retort; did you knock over the Economic Undertaker from Clara when the heat was intense in the last election? There is no way that Cowen would have got away with that bombast with Bill. And by the way Richard, I would be able to do the Finance Ministers job myself if I got elected and Enda appointed me. I’m sure that Morgan Kelly or Damian Kiberd or Moore McDowell or Colm McCarthy or Brian Lucy or Marc Coleman or Constantin Gorgiev would be willing to give me a dig-out and Paul Sweeney could offer a counterbalance. The fundamentals of state finance are fairly simple. Borrow to invest and only spend what you have.

Richard, have you attacked Gilmore on his economic record? Have you let him away with vagaries on government borrowing? Have you let Labour away with opposition to the bank guarantee of 30 September 2008? Have you no comment on Honohan’s claim that Anglo is systemic? Have you no comment about the affordability of the Croke Park deal? Have you addressed an open statement to the Irish People on the economy and what is necessary? You could have done all of these things in an innovative way because Enda gave you free reign.

In your heart, you know that Enda will be a trustworthy competent Taoiseach. If, as is rumoured, you disagreed with some hidden manoeuvre about national sovereignty and the Brussels influence over the budget broad numbers, you should have talked to Enda and sorted it out.

Richard, I do not think that denegation of Enda Kenny is becoming of you.
That is what you did and has been happening. We in Fine Gael have a problem in Dublin. We need to make more of an impact. The absence of Gillian Kavanagh from Head Office is an obvious problem. Make her an offer she can’t refuse when you return. Have you or any of your supporters done anything about dealing with Labour’s populism? I got after them at the Dublin City Council with my coalition for common sense opposition to the 30 kph speed limit along the city’s quays. That is only a little aperitif!

I heard Enda offer you and your supporters an olive branch. It is obvious that Enda rates you above himself on the economy. He is an inclusive man.
Dr Leo Varadkar said on Vincent Browne tonight that yourself, Brian Hayes, Leo himself and Simon Coveney would not serve with Enda as leader. Some respecters of democracy! You should distance yourself overtly from such petulance. Any other action can only be interpreted as letting your ego get in the way of the proper utilisation of your great abilities.

I hope that the Fine Gael TDs and Senators look into their hearts and see the integrity of the Mayoman. I am worried that you will be knocked over by a Fianna Fail verbal bully when the heat is on. I want Enda because I believe that he will make an excellent Taoiseach. Neither am I deaf to the anti-Kenny sentiment on many doorsteps in various areas including my own.
But I am willing to put the country first rather than the electoral fortunes of Bill.

I will ask Enda to have a word with Phil Hogan to stop the comments which I heard on Newstalk at 5 bells on you being partially absent without leave in your portfolio for the past few months. Phil is playing like Kilkenny – a little “Physical”.

Richard, if your coup is successful, how are you going to unite the party?
Remember your brother was an excellent Taoiseach in a very successful government. Kenny has even more obvious collegiate attributes. Ireland is in dire straights. Fine Gael’s destiny is to point the way forward. Duty calls.

Richard, I write this letter in support of Enda’s integrity. That does not mean I agree with him on everything – quite the contrary but I tell him when I see him. I won’t list my disagreements here.

Finally, to reassure you that I am not stupid or naïve, I am fully aware that this letter is very unwise politically. It will not endear me to many people in Fine Gael. Michael Foot’s Labour Manifesto may have been the longest political suicide note in history. This is much shorter. But I do things because I feel compelled to do so. If you win and deselect me or make it impossible for me to compete in Northwest – then so be it. I will still be able to face the lads and ladies in my team and say I didn’t bottle it.

Best regards

Bill Tormey