THE TAOISEACH AND Tánaiste held a press conference this afternoon to mark the coalition’s second anniversary, noting its achievements over the past 24 months.
Enda Kenny said the point of the briefing was not to cheer-lead, while Eamon Gilmore said “no one is claiming victory”.
However, the pair claimed that recovery was promised and ‘being delivering’ before listing off a number of commitments made in the Programme for Government that had been “progressed satisfactorily”.
The party leaders told reporters that the government is making “serious progress” but much more work is needed in some areas, including employment and mortgage relief.
“The impact on the devastation of unemployment can never be underestimated,” said Kenny, adding that the jobs haemorrhage has stopped and that employment levels had risen for the first time since 2008.
Looking ahead, he said exiting the IMF/EU bailout programme was the “main goal”. He then thanked the citizens of Ireland for their pragmatism, patience and support as they faced financial hardships.
There will continue to be difficulties and obstacles, he conceded.
“We need to restore public finances, restore relationships and confidence with our partners in Europe and put our people back to work. People can judge us on that in three years time when the next election is held.”
On that, Gilmore and Kenny insisted there were no “strained” relations within the coalition.
“We are working well together,” said Gilmore. “We are two parties with two identities, traditions and histories. We will go the full course.”
Kenny noted that it is the first time in his political career that he can recall Cabinet Ministers briefing other party members, as happens in this coalition.
Both leaders were reticent to clearly restate a previous pledge to not increase income taxes. Gilmore said the Budget for 2014 will not be heard until October so he wouldn’t “be getting into detail”, adding that Exchequer figures will have to be examined.
Kenny echoed, “We will deal with all the circumstances [in later Budgets].”
Kenny was also not drawn on the issue of marriage equality, stating his personal opinion was “immaterial” and the Constitutional Convention had been mandated to give a view on the matter.