WORLDWIDE tributes have been paid to Taoiseach Enda Kenny after he ended his 15-year tenure as Fine Gael leader at midnight last year.
Mr Kenny became known as the 'Father of the Dáil' due to being the longest serving Taoiseach in Irish history.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes to Kenny, who was first elected as a TD in 1975.
“Enda has been a strong and consistent friend to the UK and I want to thank him for all he has done to maintain the unique and close spirit of cooperation between our two nations, which has gone from strength to strength during his time as Taoiseach,” Ms May said.
“On behalf of the UK, I wish him all the very best for the future and look forward to working with his successor, when in place.”
.@EndaKennyTD was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the UK, and remains a good friend.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 17, 2017
David Cameron took to Twitter to pay tribute, posting: “Enda Kenny TD was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the UK, and remains a good friend.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Surgeon described Mr Kenny as a “good friend to Scotland.”
The two frontrunners to succeed Mr Kenny – Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar – also paid tribute.
Simon Coveney hailed Mr Kenny as “a towering figure in modern Irish history” who took over Fine Gael when the party was “broken and demoralised”.
Sending best wishes to @EndaKennyTD. I enjoyed working with him in the British/Irish Council & he has always been a good friend to Scotland. https://t.co/8VtmHcCLS8
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 17, 2017
Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar described him as an "extraordinary Taoiseach and Fine Gael's most successful leader ever."
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin complimented Mr Kenny for bringing Ireland “back from the brink.”
"The period from 2011 to 2016 was a difficult time to hold public office in Ireland.
"But regardless of the challenges we faced, Enda Kenny took them on with humour, grace, and determination,” he said.
"He did his country much service, and I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life."