ENDA KENNY inherited an “economic basket case” when he became Taoiseach but he reset the default button from one of negativity to one of positivity, a gathering in Killarney was told yesterday.

The former Fine Gael leader was inducted into the Order of Innisfallen – the highest honour the town can bestow – in recognition of his years of service to the country, particularly in terms of tourism development and promotion.

In a citation delivered in Killarney House and Gardens – refurbished and reopened at a cost of €10m during Mr Kenny’s term in office – MC and hotelier Michael Rosney said that from a Killarney perspective, the single most important and creative initiative Mr Kenny oversaw was the reduction in the tourism VAT rate to 9%.

“We in Killarney’s tourism sector will always be grateful to Enda Kenny for the work he has done on our behalf and for the great things he has helped to bring about,” Mr Rosney added.

Recalling the former Taoiseach’s two-star performance on the RTÉ reality TV programme The Restaurant, the MC quipped: “The Killarney tourism industry gives thanks that his career path took him into a government cabinet rather than into a busy kitchen.”

The cathaoirleach of the Killarney Municipal District, Cllr Niall Kelleher, acknowledged that Enda Kenny demonstrated the essential qualities required to make a difference in political and public life.

“Apart from his work ethic, his great energy and his dedication to his brief, he has always been personable, friendly and approachable and he was certainly a man of the people,” he said.

Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce President Paul O’Neill said: “Enda Kenny was and is a forward-thinking, innovative, dedicated politician who has always put the country and its people first.”

Pic: Don MacMonagle