Mayo TD says he hopes he made a ‘modest contribution’ to the country as he steps down as Taoiseach
AFTER six years, Enda Kenny officially stepped down from his role as Taoiseach with an emotional address to the Dáil this afternoon.
After months of speculation, Mr Kenny (66) announced in May he was to step down as leader and in an emotional address to the Dáil he said he hoped he made a ‘modest contribution’ to the country.
“To all my friends I leave kind thoughts, to others I express my fullest forgiveness, and to Ireland my undying prayer for absolute freedom and independence which has always been my ambition to achieve for her. I hope Ceann Comhairle that the two governments I have lead have made a modest contribution to that ambition
“This has never been about me, it has always been Ceann Comhairle about the challenges that our people and our country face. That said, I'm very happy to have the opportunity to thank you and your predecessors, and indeed all the staff of this house for their assistance and their unfailing courtesy over the last six years as Taoiseach but over the last 42 years since I've been a member of this House,” he said.
During his address he also quoted the former US President, Teddy Roosevelt. “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Mr Kenny received a standing ovation at the end of proceedings as TDs lined up to shake his hand in the Dáil chamber.
Mr Kenny was first elected to the Dáil in 1975 in a by-election following the death of his father, Henry and was elected at every election since. He was elected leader of Fine Gael in 2002 and survived a leadership challenge in 2010.
Mr Kenny was elected Mayo’s first Taoiseach when he led Fine Gael to their best election victory in the 2011 General Election and formed a coalition government with the Labour party. The following General Election in 2016 was not as successful but Fine Gael remained the largest party and he was returned as Taoiseach after forming a coalition with Independents and agreeing a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with old foes, Fianna Fáil.
Paying tribute to Mr Kenny, Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin said he was a proud representative of the office of Taoseach, that he was an Irish patriot and a democrat.
He said he wanted, on behalf of his party, to thank the Taoiseach for putting the country first during his period in office.
Mr Martin told Mr Kenny that he had been courageous throughout his career, in taking over as leader of Fine Gael in 2002, facing down the challenge against him from within the party and going on to win the 2011 election.
Before announcing his intension to resign in May, Mr Kenny passed a number of political milestones including being the longest serving Fine Gael Taoiseach and also being the first Fine Gael leader to be returned as Taoiseach following a General Election.
He stepped down as leader of Fine Gael leader on May 17 and was replaced by Leo Varadkar, who at 38 years old is elected to be elected the youngest Taoiseach tomorrow.
Also speaking in the Dáil, Gerry Adams said he will miss Enda Kenny and described him as ‘the best leader Fine Gael has ever had’.
However, he also highlighted what he said were the many failures of the Government tackling problems in the health service, homelessness and the ongoing crisis in Northern Ireland.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin thanked Mr Kenny for his service to the country and added his attitude was exactly what our country needed in 2011.
Independent Maureen O’Sullivan Ms O'Sullivan said that said one of the most moving moments for her of Mr Kenny’s term in office was the apology he made to the Magdalene women.
However she added that while sacrifices had to be made it was regrettable that they were made around those who were so vulnerable.
Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall acknowledged the sacrifices made by his wife and children and thanked them for that. She said he had been a dedicated and hardworking public servant and wished him and his wife lots of happy time together in their beloved Mayo.