Mary Mitchell O’Connor Statement on Fine Gael Leadership

Enda Kenny has been a phenomenal Fine Gael leader, Taoiseach, politician and parliamentarian.

He was one of the few, indeed maybe the only, politician who had the drive, the skillset and the courage to step up and do the work needed to secure our state. When needed most, he showed stamina, strength and conviction.

The right person, for the right job, at the right time. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.

And like the great men he succeeded, men like FitzGerald, Bruton and most aptly Cosgrave, he will be remembered and respected by history.

His legacy is secure. A legacy of a man who never had, nor sought, universal popular approval but who showed political integrity and unwavering fortitude.

When Enda Kenny took office, Ireland’s unemployment rate was at 15%. We were locked out of international markets with bond yields at 14%.

Our republic was crumbling, our young people were emigrating and our sovereignty was at risk.

Now our unemployment rate is at 6.2% and we are beginning to look up once more.

He has been a remarkable public servant and leaves behind an enviable record.

Now, as both Fine Gael and Ireland move into a new stage, we require new leadership.

We need a bold new vision for Ireland. We have moved out of a crisis but we need to know where we are moving to. Significant challenges remain and we need leadership that provides us with a guiding principle to meet those challenges.

We need a country that rewards work and effort. That respects small business, that is attractive to foreign investment, both economically and culturally, and that protects and defends the dignity of its citizens.

And in globally uncertain times we need leadership that will place Ireland on the right side of history.
Another leader to continue to defend equality, openness and progress on the world stage.

I believe that Fine Gael contains the talent, throughout, to provide that leadership.

The upcoming Fine Gael leadership contest needs to be about who best embodies the attributes and values that Fine Gael stands for. Who can continue our economic progress, in the right way. And who can continue our social progression.

It’s about which candidate can provide us with a 21st century Just Society.

The candidate whose vision for the country best matches my own, the candidate who can not only manage but can lead, will get my support in the upcoming election.

From 2011 to today, Enda Kenny led governments that brought us stability and growth. They repaired and remade the foundations of our state.

Now it’s time for the next generation of leadership to build on his efforts and create a lasting, sustainable, just society.