Friday 20 October 2017

'I have not got everything right but my motivation was always what I believed was best' - Enda Kenny steps down as Taoiseach

  • Enda Kenny addresses Dáil as Taoiseach for last time
  • He will meet with President Higgins to hand in letter of resignation this afternoon
  • Micheál Martin, called Mr Kenny an 'Irish patriot'
  • Gerry Adams, praised the outgoing Taoiseach as 'the greatest leader Fine Gael ever had'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tom Burke
His Last Day......Taoiseach Enda Kenny,TD arriving for his last Cabinet meeting at GovernmentBuildings Buildings this morning (Picture: Tom Burke)
His Last Day......Taoiseach Enda Kenny,TD accompanied by his garda escort Det.Garda Frank White arriving for his last Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings this morning (Pic Tom Burke)
His Last Day......Taoiseach Enda Kenny,TD arriving for his last Cabinet meeting at GovernmentBuildings Buildings this morning (Pic: Tom Burke)
His Last Day......Taoiseach Enda Kenny,TD accompanied by his garda escort Det. Garda Frank White arriving for his last Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings this morning (Pic: Tom Burke)

Kevin Doyle and John Downing

Taoiseach Enda Kenny took just seven minutes to sign off from his six years and three month stint as leader of the Irish Government.

The Mayo TD addressed the chamber for the final time as Taoiseach today.

Speaking in the Dáil Mr Kenny said:

"This has never been about me, it's been about the challenges and opportunities this country has faced.

"I have not got everything right but my motivation was always what I believed was best.

Addressing his Dáil colleagues he said:

"I wish you all good health to continue the work dealing with the challenges ahead."

After a short, wistful speech Mr Kenny was greeted with the warmest applause by TDs from all parties and political groups.  As he sat down he was visibly moved and could be seen to wipe away tears.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, called Mr Kenny an “Irish patriot” in the course of a warm and good-humoured personal tribute.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach was courageous to take over the Fine Gael party leadership, face down the leadership heave against him, and then win the 2011 general election.

Supporters carry a young Enda outside Leinster House on his first day in the Dáil, in 1975.
Supporters carry a young Enda outside Leinster House on his first day in the Dáil, in 1975.
Enda Kenny front right in a school photograph with his brothers Henry and John. Photo : Phocus
Power couple: Enda Kenny and his bride Fionnuala O'Kelly in 1992
A 1975 election poster for Enda Kenny.
How the Irish Independent reported the victory on November 14 1975
Enda Kenny takes a phone call after his 2001 election in Leinster House. Picture by Donal Doherty
Enda Kenny takes a question during the press conference after his 2001 election in Leinster House. Picture by Donal Doherty
Enda Kenny and Simon Coveney discuss tactics before the friendly gaelic football match between the Oireachtas and the PSNI at Kilmacud Crokes, Stillorgan in 2003 Photo: Martin Nolan
Mairead Mc Guinness gets a hug from party leader Enda Kenny June 2004
Enda Kenny leads the way with Dr Liam Twomey (right) and Paul Kehoe (left) in 2004
US President Barack Obama is presented with a hurley from Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Farmleigh, Dublin 2011
Enda Kenny presents a bowl of shamrock to Barack Obama in 2013. Photo: Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos
Water protesters try to block Taoiseach Enda Kenny's car in Waterford 2016 Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton at the results of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle in 2015. Photo: Mark Condren
Ban Ki-moon was greeted by Enda Kenny in 2015
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2017 Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
In defence of the 'illegals’': Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents US President Donald Trump with the traditional bowl of shamrock in the White House for St Patrick's Day. Photo: Gerry Mooney

“It was incredibly courageous of you to work in Dublin when Michael Ring was in Mayo stealing your votes,” the Fianna Fáil leader said to laughter from all sides of the Dáil chamber.

Micheál Martin said that Enda Kenny has given a masterclass to colleagues in how to conduct himself in the last few months. He said the Taoiseach managed his exit from the top job went “at his assigned pace”.

He said Kenny’s place in history is assured. On behalf of Fianna Fáil, he wished the all the best to Kenny and his family.

Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, praised the outgoing Taoiseach as “the greatest leader Fine Gael ever had.” He said that while he often disagreed with Mr Kenny it was also clear that he always did his best.

"I will miss your entertaining tales of meetings your have had - and indeed meetings you have not had." Mr Adams said mocking the Taoiseach sometimes calamitous love of a far-fetched anecdote.

The Sinn Fein leader also cited Mr Kenny’s governments’ shortcomings in health, education and social policy. But he wished the Taoiseach, his wife and children, all the best for the future.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin recalled serving in Cabinet twice with Mr Kenny, in the mid-1990s Rainbow Coalition, and more recently in the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition led by Enda Kenny.

Mr Howlin said he would leave it to others to attack his legacy. “But I won’t present a hagiography of you,” the Labour leader said.

With his successor Leo Varadkar is not due to be elected as Taoiseach until tomorrow, the focus will be on Mr Kenny throughout the day which insiders say is to afford the day "dignity".

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