Kenny at final day of championships


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has attended the National Ploughing Championships in Heathpark, New Ross, today for the final day of the three-day farming festival.

Speaking at the championships, Mr Kenny said he regretted Róisín Shortall's decision to resign as minister of state at the Department of Health and said such a decision was always a difficult one.

"I regret and I'm disappointed that Róisín Shortall sent me a letter of resignation from her position within the Department of Health.

"Clearly this is not the first occasion in any government where ministers and ministers of state have made a choice like this, but the challenge for Government is set out in our Programme for Government and that is to sort out the difficulties in our public finances, play our part in the protection of the euro zone and the euro and make structural changes in the way we do our business at home to restore confidence in our own economy here.

"It will be the most challenging budget of this administration's lifetime. It's one that we have to approach with a degree of diligence, with an understanding that fairness is important in that sense, and affordability," Mr Kenny said.

"We are not in control of our own economic destiny. We are subject to regular analysis by the troika. We have made substantial progress over the last 18 months. There are signs of confidence returning in some areas, small though it is."

Questioned if he expected other ministers or deputies would resign in the run-up to the budget or afterward, the Taoiseach said: "One can never speak of the future here, but let me say this: both parties in Government, the Fine Gael party and the Labour Party have signed on for our Programme for Government. We recognise the difficulties and the challenges that lie ahead, and I expect all Ministers to play their part in implementing the Programme for Government.

"This is about our people and about our country and I am absolutely happy with the discussions that I have with the Tánaiste and with the Labour party Cabinet members in terms of implementing that programme."

Asked if he agreed with Leo Varadkar that Mr Reilly's decision to add two sites in his constituency to the primary care list looked like "stroke politics", he said he had already answered this question in the Dáil. "Clearly the situation is that we needed to broaden the criteria here and not be subject to the control of vested interests."

Some 123,500 people attended the first two days of the ploughing festival and the improvement in weather conditions means that a large crowd is expected today.

National Ploughing Association public relations officer Anna Marie McHugh said indications were that many people from the Wexford area had postponed their visit until today.

Gardaí continued to urge motorists travelling to New Ross from the M9 to exit at Junction 5 Carlow or Junction 8 Kilkenny to avoid long delays on the N25 from Waterford city into New Ross.

Motorists can also take the Kilkenny/New Ross road (R700) as an alternative. No major delays were reported southbound on the N11 Dublin/Wexford road.

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