Bank debt deal 'must be honoured'
He told MEPs that Ireland had long been at the "heart of Europe" and referred to Irish monks who “left in their small boats to bring the light of learning to the European mind” in the sixth century. “Today Ireland keeps that faith with our continent, with our union of peoples. We keep faith because of our particular idea of Europe. An idea that says despite our national differences as a people we dwell best and deepest always in the shelter, never in the shadow of the other”.
He said Europe needed to steady itself the crisis driven period, and return to stability and stressed that Ireland’s presidency would be “all about stability, jobs, growth".
He highlighted the need to create employment “from the Atlantic to the Urals” our people want and need security. The security that will allow them to live better, safer, richer lives.
“From the wreckage of war we created a peaceful, united, democratic union of peoples and we did all of this within a heartbeat of the possibility….. of there being no Europe at all,” he said.
Mr Kenny said the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Europe Union last year recognised that achievement and said Ireland “knows in its own way the pain and suffering of violence.
Addressing the current unrest in Northern Ireland he said “small groups of disparate, unrepresentative, trouble-makers will never succeed in bringing Northern Ireland and its peoples back to that dark place”.
He also pointed towards the Irish people’s commitment to human rights and international aid describing it is exemplary. “At almost any field clinic, any food depot in the sometimes-forgotten parts of our world you will hear an Irish voice – get the Irish view. We will use the Presidency to strengthen the Union’s approach to fighting global poverty and hunger.”
He concluded by saying the EU was “not some exclusive distant pavilion. Our union is a family – at times boisterous, anxious, fretful, joyful, always compassionate, always faithful” and he said Ireland would “give all our heart to solving some of Europe’s challenges.”
In response European Commission president Manuel Barosso said Ireland’s presidency would be both good for Ireland and Europe and was similarly upbeat in his economic assessment. He said the links between bank and sovereign debt would have to be tackled and accepted that Irish people had “made great sacrafices to ensure recovery”.
He said the Irish example proved that bailout programmes “can and do work” and alluded to the country’s “first successful return” to the financial markets. He said the Commission would “stand by Ireland”.