Thursday 23 November 2017

Eight highlights from Enda Kenny's political career

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Steve Humphreys

John Downing and Kathy Armstrong

AFTER months of speculation Enda Kenny has announced that he is stepping down as leader of Fine Gael.

Mr Kenny has been at the head of his party since 2002 and also holds the title of being the longest-serving TD, having been elected in 1975.

Enda Kenny Photograph taken in 1977. Photograph : Phocus.
Enda Kenny Photograph taken in 1977. Photograph : Phocus.

While there have been numerous criticisms of decisions made or not made by Mr Kenny down the years, there is also no doubt that he has - in the words of one of his predecessors - "done the State some service".

Here we look back at some of the highlights of his lengthy political career:

2011 General Election

Fianna Fáil’s extraordinary implosion did not guarantee Fine Gael success in February 2011.

Enda had taken Fine Gael from the brink of extinction in 2002 and fended off doubts by his own lieutenants who led a botched heave against him in June 2010.

The 36pc vote share and 76 TDs were an all-time record by any Fine Gael leader.

Economic Recovery

After the EU-IMF-ECB Troika handed back the reins in December 2013, Ireland’s steady economic recovery continued on Kenny’s watch.

The country was buoyed by international events – but unemployment fell from a high of 15pc in 2012 to just above 6pc currently.

International Image

After our reputation suffered internationally largely due to the decisions of the previous administration, Kenny succeeded in presenting Ireland as a country following prudent economic management towards recovery at EU and other international levels.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny listens to questions during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny listens to questions during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Despite doubts at home he was well received in London, Brussels and Washington.

His apology to the Magdalene women

Enda gave an emotional apology on behalf of the State to the 10,000 women who had been in the Magdalene Laundries.

Speaking in the Dail in 2013, he described the laundries as the "nation's shame" and announced a Government compensation fund would be established to help the survivors.

Legislating in the X Case

The country was divided in 1992 when a teenager (14) was pregnant as a result of rape and had to take her case to the Supreme Court to be granted permission to travel for a termination.

After 21 years Enda Kenny was the Taoiseach who oversaw a Bill being passed to legislate for the Supreme Court ruling and it means that abortion is legal in specific circumstances.

Mr Kenny said: "The pro-life argument centres on the right to life of the foetus but a woman has a right not to be raped.

"If her right is violated, I believe she has a right to end that pregnancy at her discretion."

His speech after the publication of the Cloyne Report

The Taoiseach was at the centre of one of the most significant moments in recent Irish history when he gave a scathing speech against the Vatican in 2011 following the publication of the Cloyne Report.

The report detailed allegations of sexual abuse against children which was carried out by clerics and accused church leaders of not doing enough to investigate the claims or to protect minors.

Enda said in his powerful Dail address: "The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'."

The Marriage Equality referendum

Ireland made history in May 2015 by becoming the first country in the world to vote for marriage equality.

The Taoiseach had canvassed for a yes vote in the months leading up the the ballot.

Enda Kenny at the launch of the Fine Gael Marriage Referendum
Enda Kenny at the launch of the Fine Gael Marriage Referendum

Just days before the public went to the polls, Mr Kenny appeared on television to say: "There is nothing to fear for voting for love and equality."

His immigration speech in front of Donald Trump

While there was some controversy about whether the Mayo man should should meet with Donald Trump for the traditional St Patrick's Day visit this year, he was widely praised for a speech he gave on the importance of immigration.

Just weeks after Trump's infamous travel ban on people from six predominantly Muslim countries, Kenny spoke passionately about the contribution of the Irish diaspora in America.

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
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

He said: "Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore.

"We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and became Americans.

"We lived the words of JFK long before he uttered them – we asked not what America could do for us but what we could do for America. And we still do."

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Also in this section