Belfast Telegraph

I made mistakes but always did my best, says Kenny on final day in office

By Ed Carty

Enda Kenny has said he hopes his legacy as the Republic's leader will be marked by a modest contribution to improving the country.

In a somewhat reluctant and humble valedictory address to the Dail in Dublin, the outgoing Taoiseach said he accepted he had made mistakes but that he always had people's best interests at heart.

"This has never been about me ... it has always been about the problems and challenges that the people of our country face," he said.

Mr Kenny's speech marked his long-awaited resignation as leader of the Republic's minority government after six years in the role. As part of his last day in office, the veteran Fine Gael politician hosted a Cabinet meeting for the final time in Government Buildings before calling on President Michael D Higgins with a formal letter of resignation.

Mr Kenny told colleagues that he would have preferred to have left office quickly and quietly.

"The prospect of making a speech or listening to them, either of glorification or flagellation, is not something that I really relish," he added.

He recalled the will of Michael Davitt. The 19th century republican, agrarian campaigner and founder of the Irish National Land League said he left "kind thoughts" to his friends, forgiveness to others and an "undying prayer" to Ireland for "absolute freedom and independence".

"I hope that in the two governments I have led that we have made a modest contribution towards that ambition," he said.

Mr Kenny, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, took over as Fine Gael leader in 2002 after the party suffered near annihilation at the polls. He is credited with steadily rebuilding support and, after surviving a leadership heave in 2010, he led it to its best ever election result in early 2011.

Reflecting on his career, Mr Kenny said: "For my own part I am the first to acknowledge I have not got everything right. But I can honestly say my motivation was always what I believed to be in the best interest of the Irish people."

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