Enda Kenny Speaker

Enda Kenny

Former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) from 2011-2017

Enda Kenny: Biography highlights

In September 2008 the global economy had been turned upside down by the financial crisis, and the Irish economy was left particularly exposed because of huge property-related investments by the domestic banking sector.

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Full biography of Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny’s Background

The then government took on the liabilities of the banks in order to restore confidence in the markets, but this was unsustainable and in November 2010 they had formally applied to enter a programme with the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF (also known as the Troika which became known as the “bailout”).

Against this background, Mr. Kenny assumed the role of Taoiseach in the general elections in March 2011 and under his leadership in the subsequent 6 years, Ireland regained full access to the financial markets in 2013; unemployment, which had stood at over 15%, dropped to 6%, and interest rates on Irish borrowing fell from 15% to zero, which all marked a truly remarkable turnaround.

He oversaw a smooth transfer of power to his party colleague, Leo Varadkar, in June 2017 and retired from National politics on the dissolution of the Parliament in January 2020.

A politician for over 40 years, he was first elected in 1975 and has been re-elected at each of the 12 subsequent General Elections. He has served as Minister for Tourism and Trade as well as in Education and Labour, and he was a member of many committees including The New Ireland Forum, specially set up to deal with Northern Ireland issues.

He conducted the Presidency of the EU in 2013 and oversaw the agreement of its budget of €960 billion, and served as Vice President of the European People’s Party at the European Parliament for 6 years. His press conference with President Trump in the White House to mark St. Patrick’s Day in March 2017 and his passionate contribution on the topic immigration was followed by millions of viewers.

During his premiership, and following the report of a citizen’s convention on the issue of marriage equality, in 2015 his government held a referendum and changed the Irish constitution to allow for same sex marriages, the first country in the world to do so in this manner. He oversaw commemorations for the 100th Anniversary of Irish Independence in 2016.

He is also recognised for changing the relationship between Irish government and the Catholic Church following a series of scandals exposed within the Church. He formed a citizens assembly to make recommendations on the question of abortion in Ireland. The recommendations of the assembly were put to the people in a referendum and the law was subsequently changed to provide abortion in Ireland.

Mr. Kenny assumed leadership of his political party at a time when it had suffered a major defeat in a general election, and following his campaign to revitalise it, he led Fine Gael to victory at the 2011 General Election, with his party becoming the largest in the state for the first time. Under his leadership Fine Gael became the largest party in local, Dáil and European Parliament level, a result never achieved previously. He became Taoiseach for the second time in 2016.

Throughout his time in politics, he has shown an ability to connect with people from across the spectrum from Heads of State, international business and civil society leaders, to the members of his own West of Ireland constituency.

Since stepping down as PM he has taken on roles as advisor to a think tank with a focus on increasing Irish trade and understanding with China, and is chairman of the advisory council for an Irish private equity firm which focusses on impact investing within Ireland. A keen golfer and cyclist, he is also an avid sports fan and he has become an international Ambassador for a sports-based global charity. He is a fluent Gaelic speaker. Mr Kenny was awarded an Honorary Degree by the National University of Ireland Galway in recognition of his service to his country.

As a speaker, he delivers a thoughtful, comprehensive view of global issues drawing on his vast domestic and international experience, putting the current rapidly changing global political and economic landscape into context.

Business audiences learn from his insights into the decision-making and leadership skills required as they navigate a challenging, transformational environment. He can provide an unrivalled perspective on Brexit developments as well as valuable insights on the rise of populist politicians and parties around the globe and the future of Europe in a globalised world. He is excellent at Q&A and values having a full briefing in advance to make sure his input is as relevant and valuable as possible.


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Watch Enda in action

1/3 videos
State of the Nation Address From An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
State of the Nation Address From An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. - Ireland at the Heart of a Changing European Union
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. - Ireland at the Heart of a Changing European Union
Ibec CEO Conference 2014  - An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD
Ibec CEO Conference 2014 - An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD

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