Taoiseach Enda Kenny
By Evan Short
Speculation is mounting that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will end his tenure as leader of the Irish government after he visits the U.S. next month for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
But the precise date of departure might not definitively emerge even after a meeting of the Fine Gael leadership in Dublin today at which Mr. Kenny was expected to deliver a robust defense of his leadership of both party and government.
Nevertheless, Mr. Kenny’s resignation in the foreseeable future – amid the fallout from the Maurice McCabe Garda whistleblower scandal – is now widely seen as a done deal.
Maurice McCabe, a serving Garda sergeant, claims he has been targeted by a smear campaign after highlighting how high profile figures were let off sanctions after being found to have committed traffic violations.
A tribunal of inquiry is pending.
Kenny’s handling of the crisis has led to speculation that unless he steps down he will face an internal rebellion within the Fine Gael party with either Minister Leo Varadkar or Minister Simon Coveney likely to take over.
Kenny promised the party he wouldn’t serve a full second term after a disappointing performance in the last election saw him returned as taoiseach, but only with the conditional support of Fianna Fáil under a “confidence and supply” arrangement.
It is understood Mr. Kenny would have preferred to step down next year, this after Pope Francis visits Ireland, but the McCabe scandal has made it highly unlikely he will survive until then.
Enda Kenny has been taoiseach since 2011 and is the only Fine Gael leader ever to have been returned for a second term in the office.
His visit to Washington will mean a first meeting with President Trump and a presentation of the traditional bowl of shamrock at the White House.
Mr. Kenny will be in the U.S. for the better part of a week with stopovers in New York and the nation’s capital.
Trade and Brexit will be high on the agenda, but so too will the undocumented Irish. And that could mean something of a fraught backdrop to all the shamrock bonhomie.
The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday released details of how it will be ramping up nearly all of the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement practices.
Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, has drawn up memos that point to expanded raids, a revised definition of criminal aliens, a diminishing of so-called sanctuary areas, and the enlisting of local law enforcement to execute federal immigration policy, the Hill newspaper reported.
Under the new regulations, federal officers will no longer consider any category of “removable alien” as being exempt from removal, except for those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The new regulations also restore programs for local law enforcement collaboration with federal authorities that were set aside under the Obama administration, this because of concerns that they violated due process, or were a hindrance to local authorities.
Numerous reports suggest that just about every illegal or undocumented person in the U.S. could be at risk of deportation as the Department of Homeland Security moves to enforce existing immigration laws in a more forceful manner than even the Obama administration, which itself oversaw the deportation of hundreds of thousands of people.
There are thousands of undocumented Irish in the U.S. – as many as 50,000 by some estimates.