Published Saturday, 01 September 2012
Bethany Firth, pictured at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (© Getty)
The Seaforde teenager triumphed in the women's 100m backstroke final in the Aquatics Centre despite having an injured shoulder.
Mr Kenny said: "Bethany's impressive win is an inspiration to all young people, she has done her country, family and Team Ireland proud.
"I wish Bethany every success with her future swimming."
Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín described her performance as "outstanding."
She continued: "Yesterday cyclist James Brown narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the individual pursuit.
"James has been taking part in the Paralympics since 1984 and his disappointment at not getting a medal does not take away from his excellent track record.
"I wish all the competitors well as they too aim for gold. I am sure they will all be spurred on by Bethany's success."
SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said Firth had shown dedication, commitment and skill to climb to the top of her sport in a very short space of time.
She added that the entire south Down area was immensely proud of her.
"For someone who has just taken up the sport a few short years ago and is the youngest athlete in the Ireland squad, it shows the magnitude of her achievement," she said.
"It's hard to fully understand the amount of hard work she has put in to achieve her goal.
"People in the Downpatrick area last night were elated and it's been the first topic of discussion with people I have met on the street."
Ulster Unionist sports spokesperson Robin Swann also congratulated the young swimmer on her gold medal success.
"Bethany's gold medal is a fitting reward for three years of hard work and dedication, and when one considers the daily 4am starts required by her training regime and the fact she has been battling to overcome a shoulder injury, it makes her achievement even more remarkable," the North Antrim MLA said.
"The Paralympics are pro-longing the feel-good factor generated by the Olympics, and Bethany's success adds to the medals won by Coleraine's rowers and Belfast's boxers a few weeks ago."
He continued: "The people of Bethany's home town of Seaforde will be particularly proud of her but the whole of Northern Ireland is delighted at her success.
"I would like to congratulate Bethany and send best wishes to all the Northern Ireland athletes competing in the Paralympics as part of London 2012. We are proud of them all."