Geoghegan-Quinn says don't overlook sacrifices undertaken by Irish


THE DIFFICULTIES faced daily by the Irish people in the drive for austerity should not be overlooked in countries whose fiscal problems are less acute, Irish EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said.

In a speech last night in Brussels, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said the Government’s approach to the State’s economic problems was the correct one and had won recognition abroad.

“I am fully aware of the sacrifices being made by people in the countries, such as Ireland, that are implementing budget cuts,” she told the Institute of International and European Affairs.

“The daily difficulties that families and communities are facing must not be overshadowed under any circumstances by the broader macroeconomic debate, in particular in those countries that are not experiencing such painful reforms.”

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, a former Fianna Fáil minister, holds the research, science and innovation portfolio in the commission.

“While I am not here to talk in detail about the bank subsidies, or about Ireland’s debt position, I will say that in my professional role, and as an Irishwoman, I am acutely conscious of the current economic predicament and the mood in Ireland,” she said.

“There is recognition outside Ireland of the very tough and difficult decisions that have been taken and the many sacrifices that are being made to put Ireland’s economy back on track.”

She noted a positive review of Ireland’s bailout by the commission earlier this month.

“It found that the Irish programme is well on track, with important progress made in the areas of fiscal consolidation, strengthening of the domestic financial sector and growth-enhancing structural reforms.”

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said Europe was correct to focus on the promotion of economic stability. “But that is only the beginning. We also need, urgently, to promote growth,” she said.

She referred to remarks by commission chief José Manuel Barroso in which he described the crisis as “a fight for the jobs and prosperity of families” in all EU countries.

“As in any fight, we have a better chance of winning if friends and allies fight together, standing shoulder to shoulder, addressing our problems in a spirit of solidarity. That is what it means to live in Europe,” she said.

“And in any fight, we have a better chance of winning if we use all the tools and resources at our disposal. That is why I am determined to use research, innovation and science as the big guns in our fight for jobs and prosperity.”