“Honesty is not just our best policy, it is our only policy” — poignant words echoed by the new Taoiseach of the country, Enda Kenny, as he made his acceptance speech at the first session of the 31st Dáil.
A large contingency of local Fine Gael supporters made their way to Dublin on Wednesday morning to witness the historic and emotional day for the Castlebar man.
The Fine Gael leader was elected later that day as Taoiseach by 117 votes to 27. Mr Kenny was nominated by Fine Gael’s Simon Harris, the youngest member of the Dáil, and seconded by Labour’s Ciara Conway. Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin wished Mr Kenny well and backed his nomination.
During his first speech as Taoiseach, which was watched by family and supporters, Mr Kenny said that he is “entering into a covenant with the Irish people today”, where “honesty is not just our best policy, it is our only policy”.
“Old politics damaged us... but the new Government partnership will get the country working,” he said, adding that it is a “bright new day” as “the Government and people will work side by side in each other’s interests”.
Mr Kenny urged that we “believe in our future” and “Ireland again can take charge of its own destiny”.
Stirring up an emotive image, the Mayo man said: “This challenge is truly Ireland’s call and my Government and I will answer the call,” so that Ireland will be “proud, prosperous, and respected again.”
After this rousing speech he left for Áras an Úachtaráin where President Mary McAleese signed the warrant of appointment of Taoiseach, and after Mr Kenny received the seal of office he returned to the Dáil to announce his Cabinet team.
Ring not given senior position
The much speculated ministerial portfolio for Michael Ring was dashed yesterday as the Westport man was omitted from the line-up.
Kenny’s new ministers, 10 from Fine Gael and five from Labour, are: Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs and Trade; Michael Noonan, Finance; Ruairí Quinn, Education and Skills; Brendan Howlin, Public Expenditure and Reform; Richard Bruton, Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation; Joan Burton, Social Protection; Jimmy Deenihan, Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs; Pat Rabbitte, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Phil Hogan, Environment; Alan Shatter, Justice and Defence; Simon Coveney, Agriculture and Marine; Frances Fitzgerald, Children; James Reilly, Health; Leo Varadkar, Transport, Tourism and Sport.
“Truth and trust” was the context of the Taoiseach’s speech after he returned to the Dáil with his new Cabinet. Kenny said that a new jobs budget will be introduced in the next 100 days, that transfers to NAMA will be stopped, that there will be no increase in income tax, that the IMF deal will be renegotiated, that there will be a universal health system and there will be a reform of government and the public sector.Following Kenny’s appointment, Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary congratulated him, as “not alone is it a proud day for Enda and his family, but it is also a proud day for Mayo”.
On a personal level, the TD said that he has “ great respect for Enda Kenny and I recognise the immense work he has put in to reach this point. I want to wish the new Government the very best in their endeavours to build on the work that’s been done to return Ireland to growth and prosperity.”