Tar éis tionól an Dáil anseo beidh me ag dul amach go hÁras an Uachtaráin agus tabharfaidh mé litir ag eirí as an bpost seo chuig an Uachtaráin agus beidh sé sin ag dul ibhfeidhm láithreach.
I was hoping that having said that much I could leave quickly and quietly.
But the business of the Dáil is such that I no longer have control over how it’s to be conducted in full.
The prospect of making a speech or listening to them, either of glorification or flagellation, is not something that I really relish because this has never been about me.
It has always been about, Ceann Comhairle, the problems that our people and our country face.
That said I am very happy to have the opportunity to thank you and your predecessors and indeed all the staff of this house for their assistance and their unfailing courtesy not just over the last six years as Taoiseach, but over the last 42 years since I have been a member of this house.
It was Teddy Roosevelt who said:
“The best prize that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
I have been truly blessed to have had that chance and I am eternally grateful to the Irish people, particularly to the people of Mayo for repeatedly giving me that opportunity.
I really do believe that politics is work worth doing, a noble profession, despite the many scandals and the disappointments; I believe that the vast majority of people elected to this house are here because we have an interest in and a love for our communities and for our country and we wish to make a difference.
For me Ceann Comhairle, cynicism is always an easy cop out. The true measure of worth and courage is to keep trying again and again, knowing that much of that pressure will go unrewarded.
I understand people’s disillusionment with politics and the political process. I believe that a first step towards overcoming that might be for us as politicians to treat each other with a greater degree of respect.
We can argue vehemently the merits of issues or measures without questioning each other’s motives or intent.
Politics is always about people. Government is always about making decisions.
For my own part I am the first to acknowledge that I have not gotten everything right, but I can honestly say that my motivation was always what I believed was in the best interests of the Irish people.
I want to thank my colleagues in Government for their efforts and support in trying to make an unprecedented and difficult situation work.
I want to recognise too the contributions of the members of the Fianna Fáil party and their leader Micheál Martin.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the Labour party for their enormous contribution to the success of the last Government. The leadership of Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton, and the particular contributions of their current leader Brendan Howlin, who played a critical role in the rescue of the Irish economy.
I thank you all for that.
To my party colleagues it has been a privilege and a pleasure for having had the opportunity to lead the party for 15 years, the last six in Government.
I wish you all good health to continue the work of the many challenges that lie ahead.
Actually I passed through Strade recently, the birthplace and final resting place of Michael Davitt, to paraphrase what he said in his will to the Irish people: “To all my friends I leave kind thoughts. To others I express my fullest forgiveness. And for Ireland my undying prayer for absolute freedom and independence,”which it has always been my ambition to achieve for her.
I hope Ceann Comhairle, that in the two Governments I have led, that I have made a modest contribution.
Go raibh maith agat.