Enda Kenny hopes to still be in office to welcome Pope Francis in 2018

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he hopes to still be in office to welcome Pope Francis to Ireland in 2018.

Enda Kenny hopes to still be in office to welcome Pope Francis in 2018

The Pope is expected to visit Ireland that year after a request from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

At a political correspondents’ briefing in Dublin, when asked if he would welcome him here as head of Government, Mr Kenny said he hoped so. His comments followed the announcement that he would have a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican next Monday morning.

The meeting was confirmed yesterday by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Embassy to the Holy See.

The Pope’s forthcoming visit to Ireland for the Vatican’s World Meeting of the Family in Dublin in August 2018 will be one of the major talking points between the two men.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has ordered the withdrawal of the Guerin report into the handling of Garda whistleblower allegations, which forced the resignation of former justice minister Alan Shatter in 2014.

The withdrawal of the report is a major embarrassment for Mr Kenny, who all but forced the resignation of one of his most loyal supporters at the Cabinet table.

Speaking at the press briefing, Mr Kenny said after discussions with Attorney General Máire Whelan yesterday morning, he instructed his officials to have the report pulled: “I spoke to the attorney general and after consultation with her, I instructed the secretary general of my department to take down the Guerin report from the website.

“Obviously, arising from the O’Higgins report and the decision of the Appeals Court, there is no reason that it should be up on the website.”

Earlier this week, Mr Shatter said he wanted certain critical findings made against him in the 2014 Guerin report to be removed and a corrected copy handed to the Taoiseach. The former minister for justice was seeking a number of court orders after winning an appeal over Mr Guerin’s failure to give him a right of reply.

Earlier this month, the three-judge Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in Alan Shatter’s favour following his failed High Court challenge.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny also said yesterday that US president-elect Donald Trump expressed his wish to visit Ireland.

Mr Kenny said that Mr Trump himself expressed a wish to visit Ireland after he is sworn into office.

The Taoiseach previously outlined how the Republican president-elect had confirmed in a 10-minute phone call that he will continue the tradition of the White House St Patrick’s Day reception.

Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon, Mr Kenny said of Mr Trump: “He actually said himself he’d hope to visit Ireland sometime, so let’s see when the administration takes up office what his schedule might be.”

Mr Kenny said he had no indication that this will happen at an early date.

The Taoiseach also said that the Government does intend to introduce a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, but would not say when fresh discussions will commence. Some ministerial sources have suggested fresh talks could begin as early as February.

Shatter: ‘I was a political pariah’

Former justice minister Alan Shatter has claimed he was made a “political pariah by those in leadership positions in Fine Gael” in the wake of the Guerin report into the handling of Garda whistleblower allegations.

In a statement following Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s confirmation that the report was being removed from his department’s website, Mr Shatter said he had expressed his concerns to the Taoiseach two and a half years ago.

“I detailed my concern on the day of my resignation, in my letter of resignation from Government, in private correspondence and discussions with the Taoiseach and ultimately, in the Dáil on the June 19, 2014. Unfortunately, my concerns were entirely ignored both by government and opposition.”

He said he had taken court action to not only vindicate his good name, but also to reinforce the public interest principle that no one should be criticised or condemned upon the conclusion of an inquiry without a fair hearing.

Mr Shatter said the Court of Appeal had ensured no body or individual appointed by government to conduct an inquiry is at liberty to criticise any individual without giving them an opportunity to be heard. “That is as it should be. It should have not been necessary to take on the entire political establishment to ensure this does not happen again.

“The Taoiseach, the minister for justice, opposition leaders and independent deputies welcomed the Guerin report and some welcomed his harsh criticism of me and placed it on the Dáil record. I am now asking that the Dáil record be corrected by them.”

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