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Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin share a joke at an event in Croke Park. There was no such cordiality today as Kenny condemned Fianna Fáil's economic record. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

"Just shy of 7,000 job losses a month" - Kenny attacks Fianna Fáil's record in power ahead of party's Árd Fheis

Enda Kenny says 25 months into government, the legacy of previous cabinets is still casting a shadow over the economy.

Updated, 12:35

ENDA KENNY has launched a major attack on Fianna Fáil’s economic record in Government – the day that the resurgent opposition party begins its annual Árd Fheis.

The Taoiseach set aside almost about his Government’s Action Plan for Jobs to criticise the massive surge in unemployment that came at the end of Fianna Fáil’s 14 years in office – saying his rival party had presided over greater “devastation” than had been seen in any other country.

“The culmination of Fianna Fáil’s property bubble policies was to wipe out 250,000 private jobs across the economy in the three years before their Government collapsed,” Kenny said this morning.

“Just shy of 7,000 job losses a month. That’s their record.”

Kenny said his own government had now begun creating 1,000 private sector jobs a month, each month since the beginning of 2012 – a record he admitted needed improvement.

But it won’t be forgotten that no other small Northern European eurozone economy experienced the scale of devastation as Ireland.

“The Fianna Fáil Governments in which Micheál Martin served for 14 years are the reason why the unemployment rate in Ireland is twice that of Finland, of Denmark and of Sweden.

“The toxic mix of Fianna Fáil policies, that fuelled the property boom, has left a generation saddled with massive personal debts – and hundreds of thousands of workers in construction in other sectors with depleted incomes or unemployed.”

Kenny also blamed Fianna Fáil for driving up public spending, financed only by temporary booms in stamp duty, leaving Ireland with the highest Budget deficit in Europe.

“Fianna Fáil’s economic policies will never be forgotten by those families and communities hardest hit by their legacy,” he added.

The question for Micheál Martin is does he accept his Government’s exclusive role in causing the unemployment and debt crises and if he does not then he can never be trusted with the economy again.

The comments came at the launch of the first progress report for the 2013 version of the Action Plan for Jobs, which finds that of the 150 job creation measures due to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2013, 144 had been completed on time.

“These plans are beginning to have a real effect,” the Taoiseach said. “This is encouraging considering the scale of the devastation left by the last Government.”

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson expressed surprise at Kenny’s “outburst”.

“I think people will be surprised that the Taoiseach is focussed on the work of the Fianna Fáil party, rather than on his Government’s increasingly chaotic approach to the major issues affecting the country today.”

The spokesperson said the public had been hoping the review of the Jobs Plan would lead to a change in direction for the Government – which had instead reverted to “old style politics-as-usual”.

“The irony of the Leader of the Government of Broken Promises talking about ‘trust’ will not be lost on the Irish people. For our part, Fianna Fáil is looking forward to a positive, dynamic and energetic Ard Fheis talking about the future of the country and how we make this a fairer Ireland.”

Read: Fianna Fáil to debate its pro-life stance as Ard Fheis gets under way

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