Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny making his speech at College Green on MondayPA

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has been forced to confess to lifting a passage from President Obama’s election night speech for his Trinity College address on Monday - without crediting the source.

Kenny has now claimed that the use of Obama’s own words in his speech welcoming the President to Ireland at College Green was a ‘deliberate and transparent’ tribute to the American leader.

But he did admit that he should have credited the source of the quotation.

Asked if the inclusion of Obama’s own words was deliberate, Kenny confirmed that it was.

“Absolutely,” he responded. “I have that speech hanging in my office, the ‘Yes We Can’ speech from November 4 2008, and because the man was here - one of the best orators in the world - a political superstar, that’s the way I felt he should be honored, by delivering his word.”

The speech has caused untold controversy in Ireland with Kenny accused of plagiarism by opposition parties and media pundits alike.

Fine Gael and cabinet sources have tried to diffuse the issue which has been raised on several national radio shows.

Questions have also been asked as to who wrote the speech with Kenny himself now acknowledged as one of the script writers.

A Government spokesman said: “It was deliberate and transparent. The comments were used to pay a tribute to President Obama by using comments he had made before in an appropriate Irish context.

“There was no attempt to conceal the origin of the words - after all, it was the opening sentences of the US president’s most famous speech. It was simply the sin of omission that it wasn’t put in context.”

The spokesman refused to reveal the author of Kenny’s speech but added: “He is the chief architect of all his own speeches and he’s assisted in the process by his immediate staff.

“He was very much aware that it was a line from the speech,” his spokesman said.

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