Kenny says main goal after two years is to exit bailout
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore marked two years in office yesterday and listed job creation and dealing with the mortgage crisis as their primary objectives in the period ahead.
Launching a report on their first two years in Government yesterday, they said two-thirds of the Programme for Government had been progressed since they took office in 2011.
Mr Kenny said the Government was not looking for “claps on the back or credit”, and he praised the “pragmatism, patience, sacrifice and spirit” of the Irish people. He said the “haemorrhaging” of jobs had stopped and Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate had been protected.
The Taoiseach added that the Coalition’s main goal in the next year was to successfully exit the IMF-EU bailout programme while continuing to reduce borrowing and debt to sustainable levels.
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has welcomed the progress made by Ireland.
In an interview publised in today’s The Irish Times, she said: “We want Ireland to be a success,” and added she wanted to see how the IMF and the Irish authorities could best plan for a successful conclusion to the programme while making sure there would not be a relapse.
“That is what I am most concerned about,” Ms Lagarde said.
“Clearly the world economy avoided collapse last year and I am very concerned that, by moving into a semi-complacent mood, people risk a relapse.”
Asked about the risk of a relapse in Ireland, she said: “Our sense is that it is better to plan than to get caught afterwards with a need for support down the road.”
At his press conference, Mr Kenny said the doors of the new personal insolvency agency would be open for business by early summer. He hoped a legislative strategy to deal with a “lacuna” in the law could be issued next week, but said it would not lead to large-scale repossessions.
“The challenge for Government is to generate confidence in the indigenous economy that has been flat for quite a long time,” the Taoiseach said.
Mr Gilmore said the country had moved from chaos to stability in two years, with Ireland moving from being a “problem case” in Europe to being “its most likely success story”.
He said social reforms would be the hallmark of a modern post-crisis Ireland. The Government would legislate for the X case, hold a referendum on abolishing the Seanad and put Ireland “on the path to universal health insurance” this year.
Mr Gilmore said relations between Fine Gael and Labour were not strained. In normal circumstances, the largest and second-largest parties would be “looking across the chamber at each other”, but the Coalition partners had come together at a time of crisis.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government had failed to put pressure on the banks to deal with the mortgage crisis.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused Fine Gael and Labour of “presiding over two years of austerity” and causing “significant hardship” for citizens.