Monday 24 July 2017

Timeline: Enda Kenny's five decades in Irish politics

Mayo’s newest TD in 1975
Mayo’s newest TD in 1975
Henry Kenny (1913-1975)
Enda Kenny on the campaign trail in 1975
Enda Kenny bumping into Bertie Ahern at the Listowel races in 2003. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton team up for the Oireachtas vs PSNI Gaelic football match at Kilmacud Crokes in 2003
Enda Kenny with Micheál Martin in 2015
Enda Kenny with Michael Noonan in 2014
Enda Kenny is re-elected Taoiseach of the 32nd Dáil on May 6, 2016

Enda Kenny - and his family - has been a significant figure in Irish politics for decades

1951: James Enda Martin Kenny born in Castlebar, Co Mayo, on April 24. His father, Henry Kenny, was a school principal and renowned Mayo footballer. His mother, Eithne, was a science teacher from Co Donegal. Enda was the third of five children - brothers John Anthony, Henry, and Kieran, and sister Maria. The family lived at Derrycoosh, Islandeadey, near Castlebar.

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Henry Kenny (1913-1975)
 

1954: Henry Kenny is elected a Fine Gael TD for Mayo South, later Mayo West. He would serve there until his untimely death from cancer in September 1975, aged 62.

1974: After school in Cornanool, Islandeady, and St Gerald's, Castlebar, Enda studied primary school teaching at St Patrick's, Drumcondra. He taught briefly in Skerries in 1970, and then at Carrowkennedy, near Westport. In 1974 he became principal at Knockrooskey, also near Westport.

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Enda Kenny on the campaign trail in 1975
 

1975: In November 1975 Enda Kenny was elected TD for Mayo West in a by-election following his father's death.

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Mayo’s newest TD in 1975

1977: In June 1977 Enda Kenny retained his Dáil seat as Fine Gael were defeated in Jack Lynch's Fianna Fáil landslide. New Fine Gael leader Garret FitzGerald did not rate Kenny.

1986: Kenny was re-elected to Dáil Eireann in 1981 and again in two elections in the unstable period of 1982. Then, in 1986, over 10 years after he was first elected a TD, and aged 35, he was appointed junior education minister.

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Enda Kenny and John Bruton

1993: In January 1993 the first ever Fianna Fáil-Labour coalition took office. John Bruton appointed Enda Kenny chief whip. In December 1994, John Bruton became Taoiseach, heading a rainbow coalition with Labour and Democratic Left. Enda Kenny became Transport and Tourism Minister, finally making Cabinet after 19 years as a TD.

1997: The rainbow coalition narrowly lost the June 1997 general election.

2001: John Bruton was ousted as Fine Gael leader by Jim Mitchell and Michael Noonan. Enda Kenny astonished colleagues by standing against Noonan for the leadership. Noonan won by 44 votes to a creditable 28 for Kenny. Noonan left Kenny off his front bench.

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Enda Kenny bumping into Bertie Ahern at the Listowel races in 2003. Photo: Don MacMonagle

2002: Relations with Noonan were at rock bottom. The party had a disastrous election, losing 23 TDs and falling to 31, a level not seen since the late 1940s. Kenny narrowly regained his seat. He won a four-way leadership contest involving Gay Mitchell, Phil Hogan, and Richard Bruton. Fine Gael was at a low ebb.

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Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton team up for the Oireachtas vs PSNI Gaelic football match at Kilmacud Crokes in 2003

2007: After gains in the 2004 local and European elections, Enda Kenny's Fine Gael fought another election against Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael gained 20 seats to bring it back to 51 but Ahern formed a coalition with the Green Party, Progressive Democrats and Independents.

2008: In September, Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, issued the controversial bank deposits guarantee in an effort to avert a banking collapse.

2010: In June, key members of Kenny's frontbench backed Richard Bruton in a leadership heave. Enda Kenny fought back brilliantly, predicting he would emulate predecessors, Liam Cosgrave and John Bruton, who also defeated heaves and became Taoiseach within a year.

2011: The arrival of the EU-IMF-ECB Troika in November 2010 to take over management of the Irish economy was a body-blow to a sinking government. The February 2011 general election was essentially a contest between Fine Gael and Labour amid an unprecedented meltdown by Fianna Fáil . Enda Kenny's Fine Gael won 36pc of the vote and an all-time record of 76 seats. On March 9, 2011, Enda Kenny was elected Taoiseach.

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Enda Kenny with Micheál Martin in 2015

2014: The government parties suffered big local election losses. Fine Gael lost 105 councillors to Labour's 81. Voter dissatisfaction with the handling of water charges, local property tax and discretionary medical cards was blamed. Reports of economic recovery were not felt in voters' personal circumstances.

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Enda Kenny with Michael Noonan in 2014

2015: In May 2015, voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum permitting same-sex marriage. After a slow start, Enda Kenny and Fine Gael played a strong campaign role.

2016: The February 2016 general election was fought on the benefits or otherwise of economic recovery. Labour, and especially Fine Gael, stressed recovery, with Fine Gael opting for the ill-starred "Let's Keep The Recovery Going". It didn't work. Labour went from 37 TDs in 2011 to just seven. Fine Gael fell from 76 to 50 TDs. After 70 days of talks, it was agreed Fianna Fáil would underpin a minority coalition of Fine Gael and Independents led by Enda Kenny.

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Enda Kenny is re-elected Taoiseach of the 32nd Dáil on May 6, 2016

May 2016: On May 6, Enda Kenny was again elected Taoiseach by 59 votes to 49. Fianna Fáil and some others abstained to allow this outcome.

Irish Independent

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