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Dublin: 4 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019
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Read: Taoiseach Enda Kenny's 100 days speech

The Taoiseach has promised no rise in income tax, and to attempt to free Ireland from the constraints of the EU/IMF bailout.

Image: [File Photo] Photocall Ireland

FOR THE DAY that’s in it, Taoiseach Enda Kenny finished with a James Joyce quote.

Read his entire speech as the government marks 100 days in office…

100 days ago, the partnership government between Fine Gael and the Labour Party entered government with a strong mandate from the Irish people to deliver our plan to get our country working again.

I, when elected Taoiseach, entered into a covenant with the Irish people.

To tell them the truth, no matter how painful or difficult, that truth might be.

The truth of the first 100 days is as follows. As we start to re-claim our financial independence, and restore morale and confidence across our country, we have made a decisive step on the road to recovery.

We have acted swiftly and decisively to address the crises in banking, jobs and the public finances.

Our immediate challenge was the quagmire of Irish banking.

Within the first three weeks, we announced a comprehensive restructuring & recapitalisation-plan for the domestic banks, credible to depositors and markets alike.

Consequently, deposit outflows have stabilised.

Downsizing of banks’ overseas assets, to allow for more domestic lending, continues apace.

Emergency-funding from the Central Bank is being reduced.

Banking boards, management & culture are being addressed.

Bondholders, particularly in the ‘hopeless-case’ banks, are sharing the rescue costs.

This Autumn, we’ll launch of a loan-guarantee scheme for the SMEs.

And additional measures to help families drowning in mortgage debt.

Jobs have been at the heart of our first 100 days.

Ten weeks into office, we announced a Jobs Initiative and Internship
Programme, whose effects will be seen shortly.

Today, I’m inviting more Irish employers to join this national campaign.

In July, we’ll cut the Jobs’ Tax on low-paid staff by half; cut VAT on tourism-related services by a third.

It is not all. But it is a start.

A start was always going to be a complicated proposition.

On the bail-out, we’ve started to fulfil our promise to improve the term, with clear results.  Managing to renegotiate the EU/IMF Programme in favour of our Jobs Initiative; preventing the firesale of bank assets; securing the restoration of the minimum wage.

Now we must rebuild credibility by implementing the agreed bail-out terms.

That’s how we’ve already secured near-universal support for an interest-rate reduction, including from the IMF, the Commission, ECB and
most EU countries.

Our message is clear. Ireland is making huge sacrifices to help solve the euro-zone crisis.

If we can grow out of this crisis, we can pay our way.

But this is a financial crisis. It’s not a socio-political experiment to see how far the Irish people can be pushed, how much they can take.

Consequently, European leaders must lead.

Must put aside their domestic political agendas, and at this crucial juncture, support countries, who are working towards recovery.

We must remove Ireland from the constraints of the EU/IMF deal as soon as possible.

Borrowing one euro in every four spent is not sustainable. Come Autumn, we’ll complete a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, for the next three years.

We must do more with less.

And prepare. Prepare to pay ourselves less; for radical reforms in every sector; for yet
more difficult decisions.

However, we cannot cut our way out of trouble. If growth and investment are critical, making Ireland the best small country in the world in which to work and do business by 2016 is essential.

That means re-committing to NO tax increases on work and investment.

The 12.5% corporation-tax rate remains non-negotiable.

While our exports are good, we can and must do better.

Today, the world celebrates what I call Ireland’s abiding wealth. Wealth that can never be stored in banks, or measured by markets or traded on the stock exchange.

Because today is Bloomsday…Joyce wrote that “nations have their ego, just like individuals”.

In Ireland, we have more. We have pride. Pride in what we know we can achieve, when we work together, for the good
of our nation. We have realism too. There are no quick fixes. No cheap bailouts. No easy road ahead. We‘re working in extraordinary times, in straitjacket conditions, but we have a plan.

I ask people to work with us in delivering it.

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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