Enda Kenny named European of the Year

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been presented with a European of the Year award.

European Movement Ireland is bestowing the honour on him for strengthening EU-Irish relations.

Current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presented the award this afternoon.

    Previous winners include:

  • 1988 Peter Sutherland
  • 1989 Sean Kelly
  • 1990 Charles Haughey
  • 1991 Brian Friel
  • 1992 Ray MacSharry
  • 1993 Albert Reynolds and John Hume
  • 1994 Michael Smurfit
  • 1995 Adi Roche
  • 1996 John Bruton
  • 1997 Mary Banotti
  • 1998 Paddy Harte and Glenn Barr
  • 1999 David O’Sullivan
  • 2000 David Byrne
  • 2001 Tommie Gorman
  • 2003 Pat Cox
  • 2004 Maurice Hayes
  • 2005 Bertie Ahern
  • 2015 Catherine Day
  • 2016 Irish Defence Forces

Mr Varadkar said: "Enda Kenny is someone who has always stood up for Ireland, and for Europe.

"Right from the start, he displayed a positive, consistently optimistic approach to solving problems, backed by a steely resolve which came to stand the country, and the EU, in very good stead.

In 2011, when Enda became Taoiseach, our GDP had plummeted, unemployment had soared, and Ireland's international reputation was in tatters.

"Under his patient and determined leadership, he steered the country on a path to regain what was lost.

"He had to fight for our national interests, but guiding his work at all times was his genuine appreciation of, and commitment to Europe."

The former Taoiseach said that Ireland's membership of the EU has brought about many changes.

Mr Kenny said: “Ireland’s membership of the EU has transformed our country, from being backward, introverted and protectionist to outward-looking, export-oriented, with a globally confident people.

“While Brexit is clearly of critical importance to us as an EU member, Europe as a global player cannot become absorbed with the issue to the neglect of its own future agenda and the place in the world of the European Union in 20 years’ time.

"It is Europe’s value system that makes it so strong: peace, personal dignity, freedom, opportunity, privacy.

“A Europe that forges strong leadership and that shows real partnership can build a continent that is life giving, hopeful and popular and not one that is divisive, destructive and populist.”

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