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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland Enda Kenny, pictured in February 2011
One Year On

How is Enda Kenny doing on his 'best small country' election target?

One year ago, Enda said Ireland could become “the best small country in the world” in several key areas. Here’s how far we’ve got according to experts in each…

JUST OVER A year ago on the campaign trail for the 2011 general election, Enda Kenny made a resounding statement about his aims for Ireland.

“I will seek the trust of the Irish people to implement Fine Gael’s plan to get Ireland working again,” he said.

“I firmly believe that by 2016, Ireland can become the best small country in the world in which to do business, the best country in which to raise a family and the best country in which to grow old with dignity and respect.”

So how are the government doing on this? With four years still to go until 2016, asked expert groups in the three areas that Kenny singled out to give the Government a progress report.

“The best country in which to do business”

We asked Mark Fielding of small business organisation ISME for his take:

“Taking the Taoiseach’s words of ‘growing old with dignity’, there is a feeling out there that we are certainly growing old listening to promises, announcements and announcements about announcements, since the current Government got into power on the promise of jobs.

The VAT, PRSI and Jobbridge  initiatives during last summer were welcomed and have had limited success, however the efforts to get the bailed-out banks lending to SMEs has failed and the introduction of a micro-finance and Partial Guarantee scheme has been long-fingered again.

We want to be the best small country for small business. To date – little done, much, much more to do.”

“The best country in which to raise  a family”

We asked Karen Kiernan of lone parents’ organisation One Family for her take:

“Unfortunately Ireland has become a colder and more difficult place to be a one-parent family as supports to help lone parents into work have been cut, more families are separating due to the pressures of finances and more people are losing their jobs and trying to navigate the social welfare system.

Sixty-five per cent of Ireland’s poorest children live in one-parent families and we urgently need to lower the high rates of child poverty in Ireland and give all children a chance for a good future. This requires vision and interdepartmental working, not reactionary budget cuts.”

“The best country in which to grow old with dignity”

We asked Gerry Scully of positive ageing organisation Age Action Ireland for his take:

“Older people have been hit by cuts, and they have been suffering from the recession. Services are threatened; front-line service providers are retiring from the HSE, and that’s affecting services for older people. The cut in the fuel allowance flies in the face of our campaigning over fuel poverty, which is a real issue for older people.

It’s only 2012, it’s another four years to 2016 but certainly at the moment things are looking bleak. Ireland is not the best place to grow old in, and things would have to improve greatly over the next four years to achieve that aim by 2016.”

More: Full coverage and analysis of the first year after #GE11>

Read more of‘s look back at one year since General Election 2011>

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