There was a heavy security operation in place at the gates of the Greenhills Hotel in Limerick last night as the Taoiseach and many other Fine Gael party members took refuge within the premises.
Enda Kenny was due to meet with his acolytes to issue a rallying call for the upcoming election. This is just one of the many private (and ultimately futile) party meetings that will take place around the country, as Fine Gael prepares for its own demise.
There were about 20 protestors outside at first, but their ranks soon swelled up to 200+. In a likely preemptive move, the Taoiseach had arrived ahead of schedule, thus avoiding the gathering crowd.
But as he enjoyed a quiet drink of tea inside, the angered roar from the protestors was unmistakably unequivocal. There were chants of ‘Not a penny, Enda Kenny.’, and ‘Kenny, Kenny, out, out, out,’ as he spoke inside to the few faithfuls who still believe in his elaborate parables.
In the meantime, a huge security detail including uniformed and plain clothes gardai, and armed officers keeping watch from vantage points, formed a safe perimeter around the hotel. All inbound vehicles were being checked. In a scene reminiscent of US embassies in the Middle East at the height of the Irak strife, security barriers had been erected to keep people at bay.
Anyone who looked like they were walking into the meeting going on inside was being jeered and heckled. Noel Coonan’s car was surrounded by protestors as he tried to leave.
In the end, both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan scurried away via a back door and vanished into the night. This is the second time in as many weeks that Mr. Noonan is forced to flee through a back exit after a meeting.
This is the panorama faced by Fine Gael after the water charges thunderstorm, and many other broken promises.
Their end is high.