Belfast Telegraph

Kenny pays tribute to late mother

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has paid an emotional tribute to his late mother, saying it was a privilege to have had her in his life for so long.

Mr Kenny, who was forced to attend a eurozone summit in Brussels and make an historic televised state of the nation address shortly after the 93-year-old's death last month, said she would have encouraged him to fulfil his duties.

"That's what she would have wanted me to do, get on with the job," said Mr Kenny during a heartfelt interview at Government Buildings. "She would say, 'We're all on the same conveyor belt at some point or the other. Politics is a privilege, get out and do it'."

Eithne Kenny died in November and her son said it has helped him understand the sadness felt by others affected by loss.

"She lived a long and fruitful life," said Mr Kenny. "She was very devout in her beliefs and it was a privilege to have her for that long. And I understand exactly the lump in the throat that goes through families every day in different circumstances when these things apply."

In the second of a series of Christmas interviews, the Taoiseach said he found the passing of young mothers particularly tragic.

"I see so many other tragedies where young mothers in particular are taken away and that's something that's unbearable for those families involved," Mr Kenny said. "It's been a privilege to have somebody for so long."

The Taoiseach attended the funeral of Sandra Herbert and her 14-year-old daughter Rachel, who were killed in a car crash in Ballina, Co Mayo earlier this month.

"Personally, I had had the privilege of having a mother for all of my life time, which is obviously a privilege," he said. "To see those two beautiful people laid out kind of puts things in perspective, so I've had the privilege and I respect that."

Mr Kenny said he strives to be authentic when it comes to the public and recognising that people have real problems. "I still carry my phone and I talk to them," he added. "I think that it is important the citizens of the country have direct contact with their leaders."

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