Enda Kenny formally resigns as Irish PM

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-14 09:45

Enda Kenny formally resigns as Irish PM

President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina Coyne watch outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny (R) leaving the Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin, on his last day as taoiseach, June 13, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

DUBLIN - Ireland's Enda Kenny on Tuesday afternoon formally resigned as taoiseach (prime minister) after six years as head of government.

Kenny told the Dail Eireann, lower house of Irish parliament that he plans to travel to Aras an Uachtarain (official residence of the Irish president) to submit his resignation to President Michael D Higgins.

"This has never been about me, it has always been Ceann Comhairle (the chairperson of Dail Ereann) about the challenges that our people and our country face," Kenny said in his farewell speech to parliament.

"That said, I'm very happy to have the opportunity to thank you and your predecessors, and indeed all the staff of this house for their assistance and their unfailing courtesy over the last six years as taoiseach but over the last 42 years since I've been a member of this house," he said.

Kenny has been taoiseach since 2011 and leader of Fine Gael (United Ireland Party) since 2002. He is the longest-serving Fine Gael taoiseach and the first in his party to serve two consecutive terms as taoiseach.

The 66-year-old former teacher, born in west Ireland's County Mayo, is the longest serving member of Irish parliament, having first been elected in 1975.

On Tuesday afternoon, leaders of Fianna Fail (Republican Party) and other opposition party paid tribute to Kenny, who helped steer the country out of recession following the global financial crash.

Describing Kenny as a proud representative of the office of taoseach, Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin said he was an Irish patriot.

Martin said he wanted, on behalf of his party, to thank the taoiseach for putting the country first during his difficult period in office.

When Kenny came to power in 2011, Ireland was still suffering from a deep recession caused by the global financial crash and the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy. He has been praised for leading the country out of recession and driving down the national debt, albeit with an austerity agenda that saw big cuts in welfare, health, education and policing.

Last month, Kenny resigned as leader of Fine Gael under pressure from both inside and outside of the party. He has led the center-right party for 15 years.

Early this month, Leo Varadkar, who currently served as minister for social protection, was elected as leader of Fine Gael. It is expected that Varadkar will be appointed as taoiseach on Wednesday by President Higgins following the approval of Dail Eireann.

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