Clegg describes Ireland as 'model of a country' in sticking to its tasks


Ireland’s economy is recovering and all the indications point to this, Britain’s deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, said in Dublin yesterday.

He was addressing a congress of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform (ELDR)party, a transnational organisation which includes his own party and Fianna Fáil which was hosting the event.

Mr Clegg said it was fitting in the current challenging political and economic environment that the event should be taking place in Ireland’s capital city.

“As Ireland prepares to take on the presidency of the European Union next year, there can be no doubt its economy is coming back.

“All the indications point to this: growth in exports and in agriculture; a well-educated young population; continued investment from the technological industry; a country gaining increasing confidence from the financial markets due to its strong implementation of EU and IMF-supported programmes.”

Later at a joint news conference with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at Iveagh House, he said: “Ireland has been an absolute model of a country which has painstakingly, uncomplainingly stuck to the strictures which had been asked of it in very, very difficult circumstances.

“I am full of admiration for the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach and the Coalition Government here for the discipline with which they have stuck to those EU-IMF deals, and I think that is something which is widely recognised across the EU.”

He understood that exports had increased on an annual basis by 10 per cent and this was “a fantastic tribute to the vitality of the Irish economy”.

Speaking at the ELDR congress earlier, former prime minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “I am very confident, Micheál, that Fianna Fáil will become again the leading political force in Ireland.”

To the amusement of delegates, he added: “Fianna Fáil is a typical Irish political party and ‘Irish’ means something. Irish for me means that you can be in deep trouble but you don’t give up. You fight back, you manage to find a way out, and that is, I think, what Ireland is doing now.”

Commenting on the European economic crisis, Mr Martin told the congress at a Dublin hotel: “We can just sit back and let events continue or we can do the one thing which is needed most of all – we can be true to the founding spirit of the EU.

“No individual country has within itself the powers or the capacity to secure a certain return to sustained growth and job-creation.

“We cannot solve common problems by only looking at the media cycle and promoting a narrowly defined national interest.”