Friday 30 September 2016

How a child's bravery touched Enda Kenny: 'These are tumours, and I'm going to die but I'm not afraid'

Published 21/02/2016 | 14:53

On the eve of the general election, Taoiseach Enda Kenny still finds himself haunted by a meeting with a young girl dying of cancer.

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In a revealing interview with Sunday Independent's Brendan O'Connor reflecting on the last five years, the Fine Gael leader says he often finds himself thinking back to “a brave little girl” who he invited to tour Government buildings.

“She has an interest in politics, 10 or 11… [we] showed her around the office and sat her in the Taoiseach’s chair and took her picture.

“I said, ‘Now, do you like that, now?’ and she answered, ‘This is great, I’m not afraid you know… these things here in my leg? These are tumours and I’m going to die… wouldn’t it be great if they could find a cure for this.”

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Enda Kenny greets Brendan O'Connor in the engine room of Fine Gael's head office in Mount Steet, Dublin Photo: David Conachy
Enda Kenny greets Brendan O'Connor in the engine room of Fine Gael's head office in Mount Steet, Dublin Photo: David Conachy

“The parents had sent me a mourning card afterwards,” Deputy Kenny continued. “And I just thought that, there was a little girl who was at the start of her life, and brave you know.

“It’s like, can somebody find out about, what causes this, why bloods are down or whatever else? And, see, in the mad rush of politics, I often think about things like that.

 “I just think that the older you get, the more you appreciate the responsibility of politics.”

Mr Kenny made the touching admission in an extensive interview featured in today’s Sunday Independent.

“I have no interest in the trappings of power,” admitted the Taoiseach during the interview, explaining he would do whatever was required following the election to ensure the country would have a stable government.

“My experience would say to me, never presume to have an answer to what the people are actually going to do… this is the brilliant thing about a democracy, the people rule.”

Read More: Kenny aims to contact every Irish exporter over 'Brexit'

Enda Kenny has a frank and emotional conversation with Brendan O'Connor Photo: David Conachy
Enda Kenny has a frank and emotional conversation with Brendan O'Connor Photo: David Conachy
Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured during his visit to Grant Engineering in Birr, Co Offaly, last week Photo: Gerry Mooney

Stopping short of admitting that Fine Gael has misstepped in its message that only they can ‘Keep The Recovery Going’, the Taoiseach conceded more could have been done to flesh out this insistence on focusing on the economy.

Asked why the election campaign had not been more about the Government’s social achievements, such as the same sex marriage referendum, Mr Kenny replied simply: “The economy allows all of these other issues to be addressed.”

 “I don’t like to see people on trolleys in hospitals, I don’t like to see old people sitting in chairs for hours.”

Asked about his biggest regret, Mr Kenny continued: “I won’t lie you know, people have to live with that inside them.

“The stress and the pressure on the families, that’s not the kind of country we should be.

“That’s not the kind of country that I want to see, and I want to change that.”

Read the full exclusive interview here: How a child's bravery touched Enda Kenny: 'These are tumours, and I'm going to die but I'm not afraid'

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