Coalition has 'road map for revival'
The Government had a clear strategy and a road map for recovery and there was “no more muddling through or hoping that something will turn up” as with the previous administration.
This was the message from Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore in his leader’s address to the Labour Party conference in NUI Galway.
Economic recovery was the Government’s primary purpose, but it was not an end in itself. “It is the means to an end, to making Ireland a fair and just society,” he told an estimated 800 delegates last night.
The Government was working to a plan, he said. “Firstly, we are restoring our international reputation”.
“Ireland depends on the outside world, probably more than most other countries. We export 80 per cent of everything we produce. We rely heavily on foreign investment to create jobs.”
He added: “Second, we have set out to increase our exports and grow new markets. That is happening.
“Exports are up €3.7 billion last year, and we are making progress developing new markets.”
The third plank in the recovery strategy was to stimulate the domestic economy.
“Fourthly, we have to tackle the problem of distressed mortgages. The biggest fear any of us has is not losing our job, it is losing our home.”
But he said he was “deeply frustrated by how slow progress has been in this area”
Fifthly, the State’s debt problem had to managed and Mr Gilmore said that “Don’t Pay” might sound good as a slogan but it was “neither smart, nor sensible, nor a solution”.
“Finally,” he said to loud applause, “and not a moment too soon, we will reclaim our economic independence and say goodbye to the troika.”
On the issue of political ethics, he said: “The recent report of the Mahon tribunal is yet another sickening chronicle of corruption, bribery and lies at the highest levels of previous Fianna Fáil governments.
“A sordid saga of influence bought and sold; a poisonous creep of political corruption which infected our institutions and our psyche, bred cynicism, strangled idealism and corroded our democracy.
“I am proud that after 20 years of tribunals, no wrongdoing has ever attached to the Labour Party,” the Tánaiste said.
He was speaking at the end of a day which saw militant protests against the Household Charge and clashes between demonstrators and gardaí outside the conference hall, which had to be closed for a number of hours.
The winner of the three-way contest to chair the party was Galway East TD Colm Keaveney who defeated Galway West Deputy Derek Nolan and outgoing chair Brian O'Shea.
Unconfirmed figures gave the count as 320 votes for Mr Keaveney to 210 for Mr Nolan and 180 for Mr O'Shea.
This was seen as a rebuff for the party leadership, as was a vote to back a motion rejecting the sale of semi-State assets which was carried by 158 to 152.