Enda Kenny’s resignation last week was followed by a flurry of tributes for both his role as Taoiseach and for the man himself from every side of the house.
Perhaps it was his sombre resignation speech, the image of a man who wished to stay on but has been beaten into submission by a series of Garda scandals and the ambitions of the younger members of his party, that has led to councillors and politicians from across the political divide paying tribute to Fine Gael’s longest serving Taoiseach.
Locally, Athlone-based Senator Gabrielle McFadden said she is proud to be able to say she knows “a politician of his calibre”.
“During his time as Taoiseach Enda showed great courage and made huge personal sacrifices, firstly in reviving the fortunes of Fine Gael and then in dragging the country back from the brink of economic collapse. He showed leadership and made difficult decisions and his legacy will last long after many of his critics and opponents are forgotten,” she said.
Deputy Peter Burke (FG ) described Mr Kenny as a courageous leader who was not afraid to make the tough decisions.
“He stepped in during one of the worst recessions this country has seen, when we were borrowing more than 50 per cent of what we were taking in, when unemployment was up on 15 per cent, and when people were leaving in their droves with no hope,” he said.
“Six years on, we are set to balance the books next year, our unemployment is at 6.2 per cent, and we have been the fastest growing economy in Europe for the past two years. This could have not been done without Enda Kenny.”
Local councillor Tom Farrell said he was happy that the Taoiseach got to resign on his own terms.
“Obviously, there were some very hard times, but I think people will see in the coming years when things start to improve that the sacrifices made were for the good of the country. It was the people who brought the country back from the brink, but it was Enda Kenny that led that, and he deserves credit for it,” he said.
Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy, paid tribute to An Taoiseach for his contribution to Irish political life.
“It is time for a change in Fine Gael, but there is no doubt that Enda Kenny brought stability, positivity, and energy to this country when we needed it most, and I thank him sincerely for his time and service,” he said.