The Leader of the Fine Gael Delegation in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly MEP, has paid tribute to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny's leadership of Fine Gael today (Wednesday), following his decision to step down as party leader at midnight tonight.

"Enda Kenny is considered a hero by the European People's Party and rightly so. It was Enda Kenny who inherited an economic crisis from a previous government and stepped up to that challenge with great courage and strength but managed to get the country through a bailout and exit that bailout successfully. The economic turnaround in Ireland has been remarkable. The recovery is ongoing and must continue.

"It was Enda Kenny at the helm of one of the EU's most successful EU Presidencies ever in 2013 and again, as Taoiseach he has ensured that Irish Brexit concerns are clearly and unequivocally understood at EU level, including achieving significant public declarations of support for Ireland, for the Good Friday Agreement and more in the negotiating guidelines. Avoiding a hard border with Northern Ireland is an EU priority. The path for Northern Ireland's membership of the EU in the event of a United Ireland has also been paved by Mr Kenny at EU level, should that happen in the future in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement.

"Personally, I regard Enda as a dear friend and I am grateful for the leadership he has shown. He is an example to all leaders worldwide and is highly regarded as such. We are very proud of his achievements and I am glad he will remain Taoiseach for the interim period until a new leader is elected to allow for an orderly leadership race within Fine Gael at a time when Ireland needs stability ahead of Brexit negotiations."

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