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Enda Kenny arriving at the MacGill Sumemr School yesterday Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Enda Kenny announces 'radical' changes to welfare

The Taoiseach also warned of further spending cuts, saying we can “no longer afford” certain services.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has announced a huge shake-up of Ireland’s welfare and training systems over the coming months.

He said the government is set to unveil details of what he called “the most radical shake-up in our welfare, employment and training systems and services in a generation”. The measures aim to “focus our limited resources on those with genuine need” and “make sure people are better off in work than on welfare,” he added.

Kenny was speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal yesterday, his second major speech in a week after his searing Dáil attack on the Vatican last Wednesday. He told RTÉ that he had received thousands of messages of support from around the world following his response to the Cloyne report on clerical abuse, including “hundreds” from parish priests across Ireland.

Giving the school’s annual John Hume lecture, Kenny also warned that further austerity measures are on the way for Irish taxpayers – and signalled that these could come in the form of service cuts rather than tax hikes. Warning of “difficult decisions and times ahead,” he said: “We cannot tax our way back to economic recovery.

Some of the services and entitlements the State is now providing we can no longer afford, either at their current levels or at all. Other services we can continue to provide only if we make them cheaper to deliver through radical reforms in the way the public service works to cut out waste and duplication.

Kenny hailed the reduction of Ireland’s bailout interest rate at the Eurozone summit last Thursday, saying EU leaders had “put aside national politics and lead instead in the interest of all Europeans.”

He added that people should not believe economists who have said defaulting on our debts could be Ireland’s best option. “No one should be seduced by trusted tones offering sound bite promises of easy solutions with no consequences,” Kenny said.

More: Burton ‘can’t rule out welfare cuts’ – even though Gilmore already has >

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