Latest: Enda Kenny leaves Áras an Uachtaráin after resigning as Taoiseach

Update 7.04pm: Enda Kenny has left Áras an Uachtaráin this evening after resigning as Taoiseach.

He arrived just after 6pm this evening to visit President Higgins and inform him of his resignation.

Latest:  Enda Kenny leaves Áras an Uachtaráin after resigning as Taoiseach

He will remain in office in a caretaker capacity until a successor is elected.

"The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., this afternoon placed his resignation in the hands of the President, Michael D Higgins, in accordance with Article 28.9.1° of the Constitution," a Government statement read.

The Dáil is due to reconvene at 12 noon tomorrow to vote on Leo Varadkar's appointment.

Update 5.14pm: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has left Government Buildings after spending time with his family this afternoon.

The outgoing Taoiseach is due to officially offer his resignation to President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin within the next hour.

He tweeted that he also met with local north inner city Dublin representatives this afternoon.

He received a standing ovation from TDs as he left the Dáil chamber earlier today, having given his final speech to the Dáil as Taoiseach this afternoon.

Latest:  Enda Kenny leaves Áras an Uachtaráin after resigning as Taoiseach

He made a nine-minute speech to the Dáil confirming his resignation as Taoiseach, followed by comments from party leaders on his legacy.

Update 3.03pm: The vast majority of TDs from all parties lined up and shake Enda Kenny's hand as he left the chamber.

He will remain on in a caretaker capacity until tomorrow lunchtime, when the Dáil votes on the appointment Leo Varadkar.

Enda Kenny with Taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar. Picture: RollingNews.ie
Enda Kenny with Taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar. Picture: RollingNews.ie

Update 2.58pm: Independent Alliance TD and Transport Minister Shane Ross - who just a year ago called Mr Kenny a "political corpse" - now says he has "achieved great things" in his "latter years".

"I have been very critical of the Taoiseach on many occasions both in an out of government, but I am happy to say today I salute the Taoiseach particularly in latter months on Brexit and global issues," Mr Ross said.

He added it would be "wrong" not to recognise Mr Kenny's ability to change his views on social matters such as gay marriage over the decades, and that people should acknowledge how his has spoken up for Ireland on certain issues.

On the current coalition, he joked: "He [Mr Kenny] found himself in a bit of a jam after the election in that he found us in Government."

Saying the arrangement was initially difficult and one of "cultural issues without any culture", Mr Ross said Mr Kenny was "the glue" that kept the coalition together.

He added: "The morale of the country is in a better place now than when he took office. And nobody should fail to recognise that."

Update 2.49pm: In probably the best tongue-in-cheek remark so far, Independent TD Michael Healy Rae joked with Mr Kenny that he is "going to a better place"... and that that place is Kilorglin for the Ring of Kerry race.

Mr Healy Rae says he can "go as fast or slow as you want", and might want to pop into a nearby pub while he is there where he can pick up some tips on how Mayo could win an All-Ireland.

Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall says "while we have frequently clashed" she respects Mr Kenny as he has "devoted practically your entire adult life" to Irish politics.

After a lengthy tribute, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan says "we stabilised the economy but we did not reform", and called for this to be addressed by Leo Varadkar.

Update 2.47pm: Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger broke with the atmosphere of the day by heavily criticising Mr Kenny over a recent controversy involving a young woman who was detained after seeking an abortion.

Saying she does not want to take part in the "back-slapping" of the day, Ms Coppinger is interrupted by ceann comhairle Sean O Fearghail, before adding: "You've had your time, hopefully we'll have a different time" and saying the current Dáil "cannot be trusted" to tackle Ireland abortion laws.

Update 2.38pm: Labour leader Brendan Howlin paid tribute to Enda Kenny's "boundless enthusiasm" today, saying that he "stepped down today untainted by corruption".

"You are of course a politician of great skill and determination," he said.

"But I think it is the hopeful, happy Enda Kenny that the Irish people most readily identify with."

He also paid tribute to Mr Kenny's speech in reaction to The Vatican’s reaction to the Cloyne Report.

"For a man who is sometimes derided for your folksy charms, you have certainly known how to speak with impact when you want to," he said.

"Abortion and marriage equality were difficult issues for you ... but it is to your credit that once you changed your view, you stuck to it, regardless of the political cost."

He added: "You have done the state, and the people of Mayo much service for many years."

Update 2.27pm: Gerry Adams silenced the Dáil today by telling Enda Kenny: “I will miss you.”

He went on to say he would miss Mr Kenny’s “optimistic energy, sense of mischief and your ability to field questions without giving the smallest clue as to your attitude on those questions.”

This last raised a laugh across the Chamber.

Mr Adams said Enda Kenny was “probably the best leader Fine Gael has ever had”, and that he could look back on 42 years in the Dáil with some sense of achievement, including securing marriage equality and capturing the mood of the nation in respect of the Catholic church and the abuse scandals.

However, Mr Adams added: “There were failures too - the failure to recognise Palestine, a deep crisis in policing and justice and saddling the people of the state” with billions in debt.

He said the biggest challenges remained in achieving a united and equitable Ireland.

Update 2.23pm: Fianna Fáil leader and long-time political opponent Micheál Martin paid tribute to Enda Kenny as he stepped down as Taoiseach today.

"The Taoiseach came to this House as a young man, and has witnessed many major figure here in the years since," he said.

He added: "Throughout your time in elected office, and in Government, you have been a proud representative of your community, your political tradition, and of your country.

"You are today, as you always have been, an Irish patriot and an Irish democrat."

In a light-hearted moment, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin commiserated with Mr Kenny, saying: "Sport has always been important to you, and I know the failure of Mayo to lift Sam Maguire during your tenure brings great disappointment".

Update 2.13pm: In a short statement to the Dáil, Mr Kenny said he did not want today to be about "glorification or flagellation" as it "has never been about me" but "about the country".

"I am the first to acknowledge that I didn't get everything right," he said.

He said that he was always motivated “by what I believed was in the best interests of the Irish people”.

Mr Kenny said despite six years as Taoiseach, 15 years as Fine Gael leader and 42 years in the Dáil - a reference appearing to indicate he may soon step down as a TD - he still believes politics is "a noble profession".

He recalled the will of Michael Davitt, the republican and agrarian campaigner who founded the Irish National Land League in the 19th century, who said he left "kind thoughts" to his friends, to others forgiveness and to Ireland "my undying prayer" 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," Mr Kenny said.

Saying "true heroism" is about "keep trying again and again", he said while he acknowledges "I did not always get everything right" the interests of Ireland were "always my motivation".

Mr Kenny said he understands people's disillusionment with politics.

But he added: "I really do believe that politics is work worth doing, a noble profession. Despite the many scandals and disappointments, I believe that the vast majority of people elected to this House are here because we've an interest in and a love for our communities and our country and we wish to make a difference."

Mr Kenny urged more respect among politicians.

He added: "We can argue vehemently the merits of issues or measures without questioning each other's motives or intent.

"Politics is always about people and government is always about making decisions."

Outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at Government Buildings, Dublin, for his last day as Taoiseach.
Outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at Government Buildings, Dublin, for his last day as Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny thanked Fianna Fáil, Labour and his own Fine Gael colleagues for their work in putting a government together in recent years “for their contribution to the success of the last Government”.

However, in a subtle swipe at his critics, he concluded to applause that "to all my friends I leave kind thoughts, to others... my forgiveness."

Long-time party colleague Michael Noonan will be ending his 35-year cabinet career when a new Minister takes over in Finance from Wednesday.

Noonan today told reporters that being Minister for Finance was the best job he ever had across his political career.

Earlier:

Members of the Dáil have gathered to say farewell to Enda Kenny on his final day as Taoiseach.

The Mayo native steps down after six years in charge, and has already chaired his final Cabinet meeting.

Mr Kenny will make a speech to the Dáil confirming his resignation in the coming minutes, with the speech expected to last about 10 minutes, after which there will be comments from other party leaders.

The Dáil will then adjourn until 12 noon tomorrow.

This will likely be followed by short farewell speeches before the House adjourns and he travels to Áras an Uachtarán and resigns.

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