Sustained standing ovation for Taoiseach as he leaves Dáil
Shane Ross says Enda Kenny has done ‘fantastically noble job for Ireland’
There was a sustained standing ovation for Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the end of almost an hour of tributes to and criticisms of him following the announcement of his resignation in the Dáil.
TDs and Ministers shook hands with Mr Kenny and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who is also standing down from the Cabinet.
A number of Opposition TDs crossed the floor of the house to shake Mr Kenny’s hand on his last day as Taoiseach.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said Mr Kenny was internationally recognised as someone who had done a “fantastically noble job for Ireland at the tables of Europe and the United States”.
He said it should be recognised that Mr Kenny had taken steps of reform which were difficult for him due to the conservative background from which he emerged. He took on the issue of same-sex marriage and was a convert to that, Mr Ross said.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin described the Taoiseach as a politician of “boundless enthusiasm’’ and “great skill’’.
“Back in 2011, that attitude was exactly what our country needed,” he said.
Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan told Mr Kenny: “I will remember you as somebody who was always personable, friendly, approachable, someone with great energy and, importantly, a sense of humour.”
Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle wished Mr Kenny well, but said, “We could have had a very different recovery that benefited all citizens rather than just a few.”
Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall said the Taoiseach had displayed many strong personal attributes – longevity, determination, steeliness and the ability remain upbeat even against terrible adversity.
Courtesy and collaboration
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said Mr Kenny had shown great courtesy and collaboration. “We stabilised the country but we did not reform,” he said, adding they needed to move to a different model that was fairer but maybe they could do that now when they changed the guard.
Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said she could sum up Mr Kenny’s legacy by focusing on six years of unprecedented austerity suffered by the many to bail out the few, or the crisis in homelessness, health, the gardaí and in the State.
But she would concentrate instead on the “incarceration, internment and imprisonment’’ of a vulnerable, pregnant teenager who had asked for help, she added. “And although we know little of the circumstances, we do know this: a pregnant child should not be forced to have a child,’’ said Ms Coppinger.
Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said Mr Kenny had a genuine commitment to politics, which nobody could take from him.
“You are a worker and that is a nice thing to say about anybody,’’ he added.
He said Mr Kenny would have more time to visit Kilcummin, in Co Kerry, where the Kenny family holiday, and to cycle around the Ring of Kerry.
Independent TD Michael Harty described the Taoiseach as a “decent and honest politician, with no taint of corruption during his tenure in office or as a Deputy”.