Ireland's economy no longer built around one industry, says Kenny

Taoiseach tells US audience that country has left excesses of Celtic Tiger behind

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

 

Simon Carswell

in Atlanta

Taoiseach Enda Kenny started his St Patrick’s Day trip to the United States by telling an audience of businesspeople in Atlanta that Ireland had moved beyond an economy built around one industry.

Speaking at a business breakfast to the Irish Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, Mr Kenny spoke about the country’s recovery saying that it had left behind the excesses of the unsustainable economic boom era.

“The so-called Celtic Tiger years were a veneer driven in many cases by shallowness and by greed,” the Taoiseach said.

“The economy was expected to be built and to be sustained on one platform only and that collapsed with all the consequences that came with it. But now it is different where all the sectors are growing, all of them, and that is the broad-based economic growth that we are pleased to see happening.” Mr Kenny told the business audience that Ireland had endured a “torrid time” over the last number of years and the Government had to take some “very difficult decisions” .

“Thanks to the sacrifices made by hundreds of thousand of the Irish people and the decisions taken by Government as part of a clear strategy and a clear plan, I can say with confidence here in Atlanta that the economic recovery has now taken hold in Ireland, is taking hold in Ireland and will be managed very carefully for the benefits of everybody’s future, ” he said.

The Taoiseach paid tribute to Irish-American businessman Don Keough, the former veteran executive of Atlanta-based Coca Cola and economic adviser to the Government who died recently, describing his advice as “always a source of great assurance and of great strengths”.

“The best tribute we can pay Don is to build on that strong relationship that he helped create [between Ireland and Atlanta],” he said.

Afterwards, Mr Kenny met Coca Cola chief executive Muhtar Kent and Irishman Irial Finan, executive vice president of the company and president of the bottling investments and supply chain, at the company’s worldwide headquarters.

The Taoiseach is on a six-day visit to the US for St Patrick’s Day. He will travel to Austin, Texas where he will officially open the new Irish consulate before he travels on to Washington for business meetings on Monday.

He will meet US President Barack Obama in the White House on St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday for their annual meeting in the Oval Office and for the St Patrick’s Day lunch hosted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner at the US Capitol.