Irish PM announces resignation as party leader

Pauline Gross
May 19, 2017

An emotional Enda Kenny declared, "Let the games begin" as he stood down as Fine Gael leader.

"I thank my personal staff for their commitment over many years to their duties".

"I have asked that the Fine Gael Executive Council expedite this process and to have it concluded by close of business on June 2".

"I would like to stress the huge honour and privilege that it has been for me to lead our party for the past 15 years, in opposition and into Government on two successive occasions".

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin complimented Mr Kenny for bringing Ireland "back from the brink".

Cllr Mulhall said he would support whatever candidate is elected and Minister Varadkar would also make a good leader.

Like his father, Varadkar - who was born and raised in Dublin - is a trained physician, and spent many years as a general practitioner before entering politics.

The two challengers were left to fight it out as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Education Minister Richard Bruton ruled themselves out of the race. At midnight last night, Wednesday, Enda Kenny officially stepped down as head of the party.

Mr Kenny paid tribute to constituents and supporters in Mayo who he has represented since 1975.

Deputy Heydon said that, under the Taoiseach, there had bee "the rebirth of a self-confident Ireland".

Mr Kenny said he would give his successor a "brief but appropriate" time to hold talks with parties and independents propping up the Republic's minority government.

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Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, said Kenny "did his best from his perspective", but added that his "political legacy is dominated by crisis, chaos, and chronic lack of accountability".

He criticised the Government's record on Northern Ireland and other matters.

Kenny is due to visit the USA and Belgium early next month in his final trips as Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister.

"On behalf of the United Kingdom, I wish him all the very best for the future and look forward to working with his successor, when in place".

Junior minister Paul Kehoe also backed Mr Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay cabinet member.

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan said he was honoured to have served under Mr Kenny who he described as "the greatest Taoiseach of the modern era".

He has led the centre-right Fine Gael party for 15 years and been prime minister since 2011.

But Kenny said he will remain on as Prime Minister until a new party leader is elected.

Tony Buckley, assistant secretary for customs at Ireland's Revenue Commissioners, said customs posts would not be needed and being an island at the end of the European Union supply chain meant Ireland could rely to a greater extent on self assessment with the small number of required checks made away from the border.

"Over the years, Enda has always been very well received at Westminster".

Other reports by GizPress

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