Kenny entering 'covenant' with Irish public


SPEECH:NEWLY ELECTED Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil he was entering a “covenant” with the Irish public that the Government would “tell the people the truth no matter how unwelcome or difficult that might be”.

In his first address after being confirmed as head of Government by 117 votes to 27, he said that “in these times of crisis, full of many unknowns, honesty is not alone our best policy but our only policy”.

Mr Kenny said he used the word covenant rather than pledge or promise because “the old ways of politics damaged us not only financially, but emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. The word ‘covenant’ restores a sense of heart, soul and spirit to leadership and our shared national life”.

The new Government, “a partnership between Fine Gael and the Labour Party, will have at its heart all of those qualities as it begins the task of getting our country working”. The crisis is the darkest hour before the dawn, he said.

Describing the programme for government as ambitious, fair and “truly radical”, Mr Kenny said “we will achieve our objectives working side by side with the Irish people”.

Stressing that no party has a monopoly on good ideas “we will in the spirt of inclusiveness and generosity which we want to bring to this Dáil and our Republic, collaborate and work wherever and whenever possible with members of the Opposition in the interests of our country and people”.

Quoting poet Séamus Heaney who said “you have to try to make sense of what comes, remember everything and keep your head”, Mr Kenny added “we will”. He called on his audience to “believe in our future. Let us lift up our heads, turn our faces to the sun and . . . hang out our brightest colours. This is the first day of a journey to a better future.”

Mr Kenny said he stood in the Dáil with a deep sense of gratitude and humility. “I am mindful of the task we begin, that of rescuing our economy, resuscitating our reputation and restoring our society.

“Also because we stand on the threshold of fundamental change there is equally another task, that of renewal of what political leadership in Ireland should be about, leadership that cherishes responsibility over privilege, public duty over personal entitlement and conscience over convenience.”

Citing a number of previous Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael taoisigh Mr Kenny said they “bore good and honourable witness to the state of our country and people”.

He became emotional when he said he included in their company “my late father Henry Kenny and my mother who is watching these proceedings today. They walk with me every step of this heart-stopping journey. For me and for Fionnuala and the children, they represent the nobility, decency and very soul of the Irish people and because they do, their spirit is with us.”