Barroso 'respects' Irish sacrifices
Taoiseach Enda Kenny applauds European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso after he spoke a few words of Irish at the Government Press Centre in Dublin this afternoon. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire
European Commission president José Manuel Barroso has moved to clarify his earlier comments about the Irish economy having turned a corner.
At an Ibec convention in Dublin earlier this morning, Mr Barroso said the Irish economy was "turning a corner", citing figures released yesterday about the increase in employment here last year.
This afternoon, Mr Barroso said he was not suggesting things were easy for people and stressed he had the “greatest respect” for the sacrifices that the Irish people had made. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz said he had been “deeply impressed” by the response of the Irish people to the crisis. Mr Schultz said Europe should not forget that the Irish had prevented a European-wide banking system crash.
The pair were speaking at Government Buildings following a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.
Mr Kenny said words of hope and confidence were very important for the morale of people. He said there were signs of confidence in the economy but no room for complacency.
Mr Gilmore said the people who had borne the burden of the adjustment were the people who in some cases had lost jobs, seen a reduction and were struggling with mortgages.
Employment figures published yesterday give the strongest indication in half a decade that economic recovery has begun. For the first time since the recession started in 2008, the numbers at work have risen over a six month period.
In the final quarter of the year, 1.85 million people were in jobs, a rise of 6,500 on three months earlier according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Central Statistics Office. Revisions to the third quarter data show that employment growth was also recorded in that period. Those revisions put the net increase in employment in the third quarter at 2,200.
It is the first time since employment began to contract in 2008 that jobs growth has been recorded in two consecutive quarters.
This morning, Mr Barroso said Europe faced a moment of truth. "Either we recognise that business as usual will consign us to a gradual decline, to the second rank of the new global order. Or we take the bold and ambitious course of growth."
He saluted what he described as concerted efforts being made in member states, like Ireland, to consolidate national budgets and to implement structural reforms. "We see in Spain, here in Ireland, and in Portugal, the progress that can be made when the political will of governments and the determination of the population come together to build a better future."
In his speech, Mr Barosso, said: "Confidence is returning to Ireland and to Europe. The Irish economy is turning a corner. You can be part of creating that positive, growth enhancing climate."