Weekly Message from An Taoiseach, Enda KennyPosted June 20th, 2011
The new Government reached its 100-day milestone yesterday.
Commentators are naturally quick to point out what has not yet been done, but the fact is that we have accomplished a great deal since we took office on March 9.
The economic situation inherited by the Government is severe, certainly, but we have already made real efforts to meet the various challenges facing the country head-on.
Tackling our chronic unemployment situation was our top priority from day one.
Accordingly, we launched our Jobs Initiative 10 weeks into office, and I am confident its impact will become obvious in the near future.
On July 1, the Jobs’ Tax on low paid staff will be cut by half, and the rate of VAT on tourism related services by a third.
These measures are, however, only the first stage of the Government’s fulfillment of its pledge to put job creation at the top of the political agenda.
Underpinning our economic projections is a belief that we can create a net additional 100,000 jobs by 2015.
I reiterate to you, once again, that this issue remains at the very core of all Department agendas.
Another of our most pressing priorities was to restructure the banks.
Within three weeks of coming into office, the new Government announced a comprehensive restructuring and recapitalisation plan for the domestic banks that will see the creation of two pillar banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland.
Both depositors and the international markets have deemed this credible.
After six weeks, we completed a re-negotiation of the IMF/EU Programme of Support.
This significantly cut the potential burden on taxpayers under the previous agreement that would have resulted from “firesale” losses by the banking system.
We have also secured almost universal support for an interest rate reduction on the bailout loans, including from the IMF, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and most EU countries.
Securing the reduction remains a work in progress, but all relevant Ministers are continuing to pursue the issue with their respective European colleagues.
There is no doubt that our current situation will demand that difficult decisions are taken in the future, but any decisions we take will be balanced and fair.
That is why, even as we are reforming outdated sectoral wage setting mechanisms, we are also reversing the cut in the minimum wage from July 1.
That is why there will be no income tax increases, and no cuts to social welfare payments, in the budget next Autumn.
And that is also why we will be bringing forward radical reforms to pay and fees at the top layers of the Irish public and private sectors, whether in the professions, the semi-states, the banking sector, or the public sector itself.
The very first thing I did on the day I became Taoiseach was to significantly reduce the pay of Government Ministers, as well as my own.
This Government will remain every bit as proactive and enthusiastic for the next 1,000 days and beyond as we have been for the first 100, and bit-by-bit, I am very confident that Ireland will recover and begin to prosper once again.
My address to the British Irish Parliamentary Association in Cork on Monday morning was the first of several engagements in the Rebel County. There, I spoke of the new chapter in the British/Irish relationship, as evidenced by the Queen’s very successful visit here last month.
I later attended the Cork Business Person of the Year Awards where Jim Barry, Managing Director of the Barry Group, took the honour. The Barry Group employs 240 people and runs several franchises including Quik Pick, Costcutter, Carry Out and BuyLo.
It also services a number of independent retailers and off-licences throughout Ireland.
Jim displays an abundance of the courage and know-how needed to drive our country forward in the future.
I then made my way to the Model Farm Road where I was delighted to open the Irish Guide Dogs’ €5 million National Headquarters and Training unit.
This fantastic new facility is very well equipped to meet the requirements of this great Association and the tremendous work they do, day in, day out.
Later in the afternoon, I opened Deputy Dara Murphy’s Constituency Office before visiting the site of Quest Software, Mahon Point.
Quest intend to increase their workforce when the new building is complete.
This site development will involve an investment of €50 million and 300 will be employed on construction, starting immediately.
The Government this week announced the establishment of a committee to look at the extent of the State’s role in the running of the Magdalene Laundries, where the treatment of many women was nothing less than inhumane.
This move is long overdue, and will ensure that the true facts are established.
On Tuesday, I attended Brian Lenihan’s Requiem Mass, where the entire Irish political spectrum was represented.
That evening, I was at the Irish Stock Exchange to officially open the Clearing Services Business venue of the Bank of New York Mellon.
Yesterday, June 16, was, of course, Bloomsday, and I marked the day by dropping into the Bloomsday Breakfast in St Andrew’s Resource Centre.
In the evening, I addressed the Price Waterhouse Coopers Irish Business Leaders’ Dinner at Spencer Dock, where I invited those present to contact me directly with any proposals or ideas they may have to increase their productivity and to help Ireland to become the best small country in which to do business by 2016.
Enda Kenny TD