Wednesday 24 April 2019

Here's what will happen today as Enda Kenny bids his final farewell as Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny with Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke
Enda Kenny waves as he arrives onstage with his wife Fionnuala Kenny before US President Barack Obama speaks in College Green on May 23, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
John Downing

John Downing

As Taoiseach Enda Kenny finally bids adieu to the highest political office in the land, here is everything you need to know about how the day will unfold.

Dáil address and resignation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny aims to keep things short and sweet when he formally and finally bids adieu to the highest political office in the land just after 2pm today in the chamber of Dáil Éireann.

Normal business will be put to one side to allow the Taoiseach to address his fellow TDs briefly and announce that he is going to Áras an Uachtaráin to hand in his resignation to President Higgins.

Fellow party leaders will be given an opportunity to speak in reply to Mr Kenny and the Dáil is expected to adjourn until tomorrow at 12 noon.

Varadkar's election to office

Today at Leinster House will be "farewell Enda day," while tomorrow will be "hail Leo day". One official said it was decided to give due space to both men to "maximise the dignity of the occasion".


Much of the final tasks associated with leaving a job have been completed by the Fine Gael leader.

Mr Kenny spent much of the early part of yesterday at Government Buildings "clearing his desk and tying up loose ends".

Then, just after 3pm, he left the building which has been his home from home for the last six years to host an informal late lunch for his personal staff in Hugo's Restaurant on Merrion Row, just around the corner from their place of work.

Since May 17, when he announced his resignation as Fine Gael leader and stated his intention to stand down as Taoiseach, there has been a steady stream of well-wishers calling to his offices to bid farewell. Last Thursday night at the Farmleigh state guest house in the Phoenix Park there was a special government dinner and presentation from all the Cabinet members to Mr Kenny and also to outgoing Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Then on Friday night there was what was described as "an informal shindig" in Government Buildings for family and friends of Mr Kenny which went on until a late hour.

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

"There have been many goodbyes and many heartfelt tributes," one official noted.

New office

When Taoiseach Bertie Ahern stepped down in May 2008 there was fresh controversy about spending on a specially refurbished office for him in a building close to Leinster House. Mr Kenny has clearly foreseen that problem and made it clear that he wants office space on the same corridor as the other Fine Gael backbenchers.

'He would like to remain close to the political action," one source said.

Custom and practice has been at Leinster House that former Taoisigh are automatically given "a pair" to avoid them having to attend for every vote.

That is seen as respect for the office of Taoiseach - but there have been doubts expressed about the practicality of this under current circumstances with a minority coalition.

What's next?

Mr Kenny is not expected to stand in the next election. He is now aged 66, and has been a TD for Mayo since November 1975. Fine Gael officials argue that he is the first Taoiseach since Seán Lemass stood down in November 1966 to leave office at a time entirely of his choosing.

His future role in Leo Varadkar's administration has not been made clear yet.

Irish Independent

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