Enda Kenny says it’s time to ‘move on’ from golfgate as he rules out presidential ambitions

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The former taoiseach played golf at the event but did not attend the controversial dinner.

FORMER TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny has said the golfgate controversy is “in the past” and that it is tme to “move on” from what happened.

Speaking on The Late Late Show last night, Kenny said that “lessons were learned by everybody” from what happened..

Last August, the Oireachtas Golf Society organised an outing in Clifden at which members and invitees played golf before a dinner in the Station House Hotel. 

A total of 81 people attended a dinner in a room in the hotel despite Covid-19 regulations not permitting such gatherings, with a partition erected to divide the room. 

Among those who attended the golfgate dinner were then minister Dara Calleary, then EU commissioner Phil Hogan, Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe, former RTÉ presenter Sean O’Rourke.

Kenny played golf as part of the event but did not attend the dinner. 

Speaking last night, Kenny said that he told the organisers in advance that he would not be attending the dinner.

The first day I went back and I played golf and I had my son with me. We played golf with the captain of the Oireachtas team and a person well-known to RTÉ. We had a lovely round of golf, a beautiful evening. We were one of the last groups out, I came back into the carpark, the place was empty and went home. 

Asked about the reaction to the event and the outcry from it, Kenny says he has “put it all out of my mind”. 

“It’s all past and dealt with, I’m moving onto a different plane now.” 

Pushed on the issue further by host Ryan Tubridy, Kenny said it wasn’t necessarily about the issue going away because it didn’t concern him. 

“I told them in advance I would not be there but the mood was was such that that was the outcome. But that’s in the past now, that’s a lesson learned by everybody, move on.” 

Kenny also spoke about his retirement from politics ahead of last year’s general election, having first been elected 45 years before that. 

He said that he felt that it was not his role to comment on current political events. A former teacher, Kenny was asked about the government’s decision to move to an aged-based priority model for the vaccination of most of the country. 

Kenny said it was not for him to comment on the decision but that it’s about “vaccinating all our population and getting on with the job as quickly as we can”. 

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No presidential ambitions

The former Fine Gael leader has also been suggested as a potential presidential candidate but when this was put to him he said he would not be interested in the role.

“I used to enjoy visiting both President McAleese and President Ó hÚigín, President Higgins in Áras an Úachtaráin because you have to go there to give them an update on events in the house.

After my years in politics, there’s always a life upfront, and I’m the kind of person who looks forward and up to the next horizon. And it’s not in Áras an Úachtaráin, I’d prefer to go and visit there and not be a tenant. 

Asked does he have any political regrets, Kenny said he was “far from being perfect” but he does not have any regrets. 

He said that his focus in government was to “move the economy” from where it was and to “restore respect” for the country and give it “financial integrity”. 

Asked whether years of austerity budgets under the EU-IMF Troika had shouldered austerity onto a generational and widened inequality, Kenny said:

“I’d love to have been able to do so much more to eliminate poverty, to have greater equality to deal with the issues about all of those things that you mentioned, of course. But you’re not going to be able to do any of that unless you have a country that’s stable, that’s able to generate capacity to do those things.”

Enda Kenny on last night's Late Late Show

Enda Kenny on last night’s Late Late Show

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