Europe

Enda Kenny addresses Dáil for last time as taoiseach

Enda Kenny (left) and Leo Varadkar Image copyright Getty Images / PA
Image caption Outgoing Irish prime minister Enda Kenny (left) and the incoming Leo Varadkar

Irish PM Enda Kenny has said his actions were never about himself but about dealing with the challenges that faced the people and Ireland.

He was making his last address to the Dáil before resigning after six years as head of the Irish government.

He is the longest serving Fine Gael taoiseach (Irish prime minister) and the first in his party to serve two consecutive terms.

His successor Leo Varadkar‏ has appointed Simon Coveney as his deputy.

The two men ran against each other in the party's leadership contest. Mr Varadkar said that together they would re-energise Fine Gael and guide its role in government.

Mr Kenny's tenure as taoiseach is likely to be remembered as being marked by the positive turnaround in the Republic's economy, the country's exit from the EU's bailout programme and the same-sex marriage referendum.

However, many in opposition parties are critical of how his government made €10bn (£8.8bn) in budgetary adjustments during the recession.

Who is Enda Kenny?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny came to power at a time of great uncertainty for the Republic of Ireland and Europe as a whole.

He was elected taoiseach in 2011, four months after the state was forced into a humiliating international financial bailout.

Despite having helped to steady the ship, navigating a path from crippling debt to economic recovery, it was not enough to prevent a slow mutiny.

He leaves the helm with new storms on the horizon - the biggest being Brexit.

The UK's exit from the European Union and the collapse of devolved government in Northern Ireland are just two of the challenges he hands on to his successor.

It is not the legacy nor the timescale he would have chosen, but Mr Kenny has dealt with his fair share of inherited problems.

Read more here.

In his last address to the Dáil (Irish parliament), he said while he would be the first to acknowledge he did not get everything right, his motivation was always to get the best for the Irish people.

Mr Kenny, who was due to return his seal of office to Irish President Michael D Higgins. later on Tuesday, said he understood people's disillusionment with politics and suggested that one way to counter this was for politicians to treat each other with respect.

Paying respect to the outgoing taoiseach, Micheál Martin, the leader of Fianna Fáil, the main opposition party, described Mr Kenny as a "courageous... Irish patriot and an Irish democrat."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said there had been successes for Enda Kenny, including the marriage equality referendum.

But Mr Adams added that there had been failures including:

  • The failure of the Republic to recognise Palestine
  • Squandering the largest mandate in the state's history
  • Kow-towing to the EU over the banking crisis
  • The "historic failure of a lack of affinity with the North"
Image copyright RTÉ NEWS
Image caption A fresh-faced Enda Kenny was interviewed by RTÉ News when he was first elected to the Dáil in 1975

After returning his seal of office, Mr Kenny will remain as acting taoiseach until his successor as Fine Gael leader, Leo Varadkar, is elected by the Dáil on Wednesday.

Mr Varadkar is not predicted to make significant changes to the cabinet, although junior ministers Michael Ring and Eoghan Murphy are expected to be promoted.

Mr Kenny's career spans more than 40 years as a deputy in Ireland's parliament.

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