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TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has addressed the nation ahead of more austerity measures in the upcoming budget. In a historic televised address this evening, Kenny said that it would be a “tough” budget but warned that “it has to be”.

He said that under his government 50 quangos will be abolished or merged, and the public sector will be downsized by 23,000 people by 2015. Kenny also pledged to hold a referendum to abolish the Seanad next year.

He said mistakes which brought the country to this point “must never be allowed to happen again” and told viewers “you are not responsible for this crisis”.

Watch the state of nation address >

Read the address in full here >

Listen back to the address here >

See a word cloud of the address here >

Good evening, I wish to talk to you this evening about the state of the nations affairs… or rather it is Taoiseach Enda Kenny who will be addressing the nation in a manner his four predecessors never did. Not since Garrett Fitzgerald 25 years ago has there been a television moment such as this. Remember that?

Chances are you don’t remember Fitzgerald, indeed the most memorable of state of the nation addresses came from Charlie Haughey in 1980 and it wasn’t necessarily the content. More his opening words:

Like the doctor might tell you, it will all be over before you know it. Enda Kenny is likely to speak for between 10 and 15 minutes just after the Nine O’Clock News finishes. The content is almost certainly going to to include the budget next week but we must also not forget the eurozone summit which follows the budget. It is increasingly likely to be crucial to the very survival of the single currency and it would be a surprise if Kenny did not at least touch on that.

The importance of tonight’s speech is underlined by the very fact that Sky News are also carrying it LIVE as they might say over there. Over on Twitter, the hashtag of consensus is #stateofenda. Not sure if the Taoiseach himself would be appreciative of that.

The Nine O’Clock News has just started. Anne Doyle looking resplendent in black the programme leads on Kenny’s address and the budget to come.

As well as Haughey and Fitzgerald (twice), Jack Lynch also addressed the nation during the troubles on two occasions. It has been said of Brian Cowen that his decision not to deliver such an address contributed to his downfall and public perception of him during the most disastrous moments of this country’s history including the bank guarantee and the bailout agreement.

State of the nation addresses are ten a penny in the United States so the Taoiseach will have done well to look in that direction for guidance as to how to go about matters this evening. Here’s Barack Obama delivering news to the nation and the world of Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this year:

Paul McNamara writes in the comments box: “Fingers crossed he does not f*** it up, that will only serve to make things worse…….” Indeed it would but thankfully Kenny has already recorded the speech earlier this evening. It will go out ‘as live’ in a few minutes times.

As an aside, you’re probably wondering who went out of X Factor? You can find the answer here

On Twitter Ken Curtin speculates as to where the address will have been recorded. A fireside chat or an office briefing? One would suspect the latter, these are serious times after all.

The RTÉ News has just come back from an ad break and we are edging ever closer to the main event. The Week in Politics has just had a teaser with Seán O’Rourke promising analysis of Kenny’s address.

On the sport, there’s some classic football action as we remember Brazilian star Socrates who sadly passed away today, aged 57. He never played for UCD, despite the urban legend…

A reminder that Kenny’s address precedes a big week for the country. Tomorrow Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin outlines the spending cuts that will be imposed in Budget 2012 while on Tuesday Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will outline what tax increases we can expect. Then the crucial eurozone summit on Thursday in Brussels.

According to the UPC TV planner, the address is scheduled between 9.30pm and 9.40pm. So ten minutes then, maybe less….

Anne Doyle is wrapping up on the Nine O’Clock News. Sunday’s main news all wrapped up. Now it’s just the weather we guess…

Jean Byrne is on to deliver the weather. In summary: it’s cold.

Okay here we go…

EK: Challenge to restore our economy and create jobs. Steps to recover have been taken. “We remain in crisis today”.

EK: Good evening, tonight taking opportunity to to address people in exceptional times facing exception challenge.

You are not responsible for this crisis. Must never allowed to happen again. Right now most important responsibility is to do what must be done.

Requires fixing deficit caused by too much borrowing and cost of rescuing banks

We have met out commitments to EU and IMF in full and on time. We have made a start, we have begun to stabilise our finances. But we have a long way to go. This week we will introduce a tough budget, it has to be tough. Move us towards a manageable deficit if three per cent of our GDP by 2015.

Jobs are central to this budget.

EK met a woman in Limerick whose husband found work after he had been on live register for months. He got back his job AND his dignity. Jobs won’t be created overnight. By 2015, want to see deficit under control. Can’t do all we would like because simply can’t. Have had to postpone Metro North for example.

Budget will include measures that create jobs and get people back to work. New plans for loan guarantees, and new micro finance scheme. Will allow small firms to take on new employees and people access to credit. Assist economy on path to growth and confidence.

Income tax will be left untouched. €1.6bn will be raised through indirect taxes. Highest priority is to create more jobs. Will do all we can to protect most vulnerable in our communities.

Wish I could tell you budget won’t impact on citizens in need, but it will.

Free mobile phones and staff allowances for former taoisigh have been removed as part of targetting people at the top. Civil servants pay will be cut. Next year referendum will be held to abolish Senate.

We will reform so we never return to practices which led to economic freefall. In Ireland, an island nation, we cannot operate in isolation, part of EU. All changes made against backdrop of uncertainty over Euro. Ireland supports stronger governance across eurozone. European leaders must make and must implement clear decisions to prove shared determination to protect currency. Otherwise investment in Europe will fall.

I will work to achieve positive outcome for country in Europe which ensures economic security.

Do not for a moment want to make it sound simplistic or painless. It is not. Will include cuts to many worthwhile projects, indirect taxes will be hard. Our economy remains fragile and it will take several years to recover fully. It will take several years to create number of new jobs we need. But we have made a start.

Committed to get Ireland working again and we ar working to deliver that each and every day. Begun taking hold of problems and dealing with them head on. “I want to be Taoiseach who retrieves Ireland’s economic sovereignty.”

All around Ireland, I meet people who want to play part in achieving goals of making Ireland the best small country in the world to do business. Government being honest and open and working with people will beat challenges we face. Next Tuesday is anniversary of treaty of 1921 signing.

Kenny concludes: “Just as our fledgling state made its way to becoming a Republic then – I believe with all my heart, that we the Irish people can now make our way to recovery, to prosperity and to the fulfilment of the dreams of our children and the founding fathers of our nation.”

Well then what did we think of that? Early reaction on Twitter seems to be a be a mix of the uninspired and the inspired. No quick consensus emerging. Harry McGee of the Irish Times asks: “Where does a political party broadcast end and a national address begin? Only a third of EK address was non partisan.”

The Fine Gael TDs are out in force in Twitter, if you count two as a force. Alan Farrell and Joe O’Reilly have both tweeted their thoughts. O’Reilly: “Taoiseach’s address combined an honest account of where we are with a note of determined optimism.” Meanwhile, Farrell says: “Confident delivery of a very important message by An Taoiseach.”

Sinn Féin is the first with reaction from the political parties. Here’s what party president Gerry Adams has said tonight:

Tonight’s address by the Taoiseach was a missed opportunity. He failed to provide citizens with hope for a route out of the economic crisis. This was a clear attempt to justify in advance what is expected to be a vicious, unfair budget by the Fine Gael/Labour Government.

Enda Kenny’s tax plans will hit those on lowest incomes hardest. What is most striking about the Taoiseach’s remarks is that there is no clear plan to stimulate the economy. The Taoiseach was long on rhetoric and short and substance.

We’re going to finish up now but thanks for joining us. It’s been a pleasure to have yours and Enda’s company on this cold December night. Make sure you come back in the morning for more reaction to the address and of course we’ll have all the latest as we prepare for day one of Budget 2012.

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Hugh O'Connell