Enda Kenny makes appeal for political co-operation

‘It is my hope and intention to lead a republic where our society is indeed united’

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has made a 1916 centenary appeal for politicians to work together in the national interest, in his most significant speech of the weekend of commemorations.

Mr Kenny made the unscripted comments during a speech in the GPO on Friday to mark the opening of An Post’s GPO: Witness History interpretive centre.

The Fine Gael leader has opened negotiations with Independents and smaller parties with a view to forming a minority coalition and has also raised the prospect of seeking the support of Fianna Fáil for such an administration.

Fianna Fáil sources say the party will not go into coalition with Fine Gael but is open to supporting it on a case by case basis from Opposition.


In his speech, Mr Kenny said: "Ireland works best when it works together."

He referenced the New Departure of the late 19th century, when Irish republicans who wanted to achieve independence through physical force attempted to find common ground with constitutional nationalists who favoured Home Rule.

"It was Michael Davitt, a great patriot, who said: 'If Ireland is to reach its port of success, it would not be by the wind of words or rhetoric but by the power of national policy'," Mr Kenny said.

“In the current circumstances, the reference to his New Departure is one that we should reflect on for the future. So today, as we commemorate the centenary of 1916, it is my hope and intention to lead a republic where our society is indeed united.

“One to which our people, every one of them, can feel proud to belong to. It is said that in this very building, Pádraig Pearse made the lonely decision to surrender. He did so, not as an act of capitulation but as an act of compassion. He looked out onto Moore Street and witnessed a family be shot. It was enough, and too much. Our modern republic then is a republic built not along on personal sacrifice but on empathy, on humanity on that compassion.

"In the hours before he was executed, Éamonn Ceannt wrote to his wife, Aine. 'I am calmly awaiting the end,' he wrote. In that calm end, this republic's frantic beginning took place. As you know, from walking in the entrance of the GPO, we Irish people began long before, as the legend of Cu Chulainn inside the door is testament to. Let me finish by paraphrasing what Seamus Heaney said.

“I say to everybody here and to those who listen in the ether than the potency of the myth is our way of imagining something ongoing. From their myths and their sacrifice, our Republic of Ireland is and goes on.”

Also attending the GPO event was former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, whose father WT fought in 1916 and served as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State.

“As we move through the decade of centenaries we will find time to reflect on the legacy of those early nation builders, like WT Cosgrave, who laid the strong foundations of our State,” Mr Kenny said.

“It is important to recognise that the modern Irish State would not have survived if it wasn’t for the brave men and women who served and embraced the institutions of the early State.

"On Easter Sunday, outside this building, we will commend the service of generations of Óglaigh na hÉireann, An Garda Síochána and the emergency services.

“The Irish people believe and trust in these institutions to maintain and protect the State and our right to freedom. They have earned that trust through generations of national service.”

Mr Kenny said the Irish State is “nothing without her people”.

“And the Irish people themselves are the strongest defenders of our democratic tradition. From the members of our media who speak truth to power, to any citizen seeking to bring about social change in our society.

“It is the Irish people who work to make this State a better place for future generations that makes Irish democracy great.

“Governments and Taoisigh come and go, new Dáils are elected and rejected, but the people’s will and their decisions have been, and will continue to be, sovereign.”