Thursday 17 October 2019

'I have absolutely no regrets' - Taoiseach speaks at his last Leaders' Questions in the Dáil

Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Gavin
Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Gavin
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

OUTGOING Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted he has “absolutely no regrets” over appointing Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney to Cabinet as he prepares to step down as Fine Gael leader.

Speaking at his last Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, the Taoiseach was asked by Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish if he regretted appointing the two leadership candidates as senior ministers.

During good natured exchanges, Mr Kenny said his would-be successors were “two fine young men”  who he hoped would keep the interests of the people and the country to the fore of their minds should they become Taoiseach.

He joked that both ministers were not supporters of his during the failed heave against him in 2010 as both Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney sat beside him in the Dáil.

“Be that as it may, I was actually happy to appoint them to front bench positions to watch them grow as ministers and bring about a situation where they actively and vigorously campaigned for the right to lead this party,” he said.

“Whatever the decision of the Fine Gael electorate around the country, I hope whichever of the two ministers is appointed as leader of the party will continue in government here and make decisions in the interest of the people and every decision they make and every step the government take should be about the country and about the people and I’m sure that’s deeply embedded in their philosophy,” he added.

During the same debate, the Taoiseach also urged Gerry Adams to outline his future intentions as Sinn Féin leader.

Mr Kenny told Mr Adams he should signal his departure date as Sinn Fein president after more than 34 years at the helm of the party.

Mr Adams wished the Taoiseach and his family “all the best” ahead of his resignation but attacked him over the Government’s decision to use the €20bn raised from the sale of AIB to pay off State debt.

Mr Kenny hit back at the Sinn Féin president over his previous calls for the State to default, burn bondholders and his party’s decision to oppose nine EU referenda. He also goaded Mr Adams over the Northern Bank raid and the links to those involved to republican paramilitaries.

The Taoiseach then called on Mr Adams to outline his departure timeline.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin urged Mr Kenny to lobby the EU Commission about capital spending rules ahead of the AIB share floatation.

Mr Martin said EU infrastructure and public private partnership rules were “unduly restrictive” and said the Taoiseach should push to have them loosened.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly told Mr Kenny his reputation will be “stained” over his refusal to ask for Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s resignation over the many controversies which have engulfed force.

Ms Daly and her party colleague Mick Wallace walked from the Dáil when Mr Kenny was asked about his regrets.

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