An Taoiseach

Enda Kenny

OPINION: The Republic cannot follow Greece into default on debts as this course of action would be disastrous for our embryonic recovery, writes ENDA KENNY

THIS GOVERNMENT’S strategy of working to improve the bailout deal in order to get the country working again after almost four years of recession is starting to produce a return. The economy started to grow again in the first half of the year; the public finances and unemployment have stabilised and deposits are now returning to Irish banks.

While we have a long way to go, we have made a decent start and are now on the right track.

The deal agreed by EU leaders last Thursday morning is another step in the right direction. It is intended to avert a banking crisis and another recession in our biggest European trading partners, thus allowing our export-led recovery to continue.

Moreover, the expansion in resources available to the euro zone bailout fund underpins the renewed commitment of fellow euro zone members to continue to support countries such as the Republic that are pursuing sustainable economic policies.

Some have argued that this State should use the restructuring of Greece’s debt as an opportunity to repudiate the deal with our partners and to renege on our own debts.

Such a course of action would be disastrous for our recovery. By cutting ourselves off from further international loans, we would have to close this year’s €16 billion Government deficit immediately rather than over a number of years. This would plunge the economy back into recession and impose a degree of social hardship beyond anything experienced so far.

Given our vastly better economic circumstances compared with Greece, default would mark us out as a country that “won’t” rather than “can’t” pay our debts, killing off foreign direct investment and resulting in even higher borrowing costs for the State and Irish businesses that would strangle recovery and lower living standards for a generation.

It is empathy and solidarity, not envy, that I feel for our fellow EU citizens in Greece. As part of the deal, they are being forced to sell €50 billion of state assets, cut monthly pensions above €1,000 by 20 per cent, cut tax-free income thresholds from €12,000 to €5,000 and suspend 30,000 civil servants on partial pay.

On top of this, they face another 10 years of austerity and troika surveillance. While it is not surprising that a deal of this nature is being put to a referendum by the Greek government, who could possibly want this for the Republic?

The Irish Government’s strategy is growth, not default. We will not unilaterally repudiate the agreement with our partners, but will instead continue to improve its terms to make it more affordable and jobs-friendly. Our ambition is to be the first euro zone country to restore market confidence and emerge successfully from a bailout.

It is this strategy that has already seen us change the terms of the deal we inherited from the previous government in order to:

Secure €7 billion in private sector contributions to the cost of recapitalising our banks, including over €5 billion from burden sharing with junior bondholders;

Finance 5,000 national internship places and cut the rate of PRSI on low-paid jobs and the rate of VAT on tourism services in May;

Reduce the interest cost of the bailout loans in July by almost €10 billion;

Change the measures in the upcoming budget to minimise any negative impact on incomes and jobs.

Part of the existing agreement with our external partners is not to allow any Irish bank, including Anglo Irish Bank, default on its debts to bondholders for fear of paralysing wider European financial markets. I share the Irish public’s dismay at the cost and unfairness of this policy and the delay it caused to the State’s recovery.

But the unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of Anglo’s debts were paid off under the previous government. Of Anglo’s €97 billion in liabilities in September 2008 when the previous government offered it a blanket guarantee, €3.3 billion in unsecured private debts now remain, including the €700 million due for repayment today.

This horse has well and truly bolted.

In the absence of support from our external partners, potential gains to Irish taxpayers from forcing the bank to default on these bonds, while not insignificant, do not justify the enormous risks from such a courseof action. Allowing Anglo to default would create doubt over the future of the €110 billion in funding being made available by the European Central Bank and the Irish Central Bank to Irish banks at a low interest rate and could mean a renewed flight of funds and even tighter credit conditions for potential Irish job creators.

This Government is working every day to undo the painful legacy of the calamitous banking policies pursued by the previous administration. From the wreckage of the banking system that we inherited last March we have carved out two pillar banks – AIB and Bank of Ireland – as engines of economic recovery. We will close Anglo Irish Bank at the earliest opportunity. We have not put a single cent of taxpayer money into this bank on top of what was already legally committed by the previous government. We have merged its loan recovery operations with Irish Nationwide and are aggressively cutting costs. Only last week we completed the sale of a large chunk of its $9.2 billion in US assets.

Moreover, the additional flexibilities and resources now available to the euro zone’s bailout fund offer us the chance to negotiate more improvements in our bailout on top of what we have already achieved, including more help with funding our banks. This is something my Government will pursue with determination over the coming months.

- Article in The Irish Times, Wednesday, November 2, 2011

EndaKenny

Weekly Message from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

Posted September 30th, 2011

This week’s message comes to you from Warsaw, where I am attending the Eastern Partnership summit of heads of states and governments of EU countries and the Eastern Partnership countries. The aim of this initiative is to develop relations between the EU and its six neighbouring countries to the East, namely Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus.

This summit is of particular significance to Ireland, as we will hold the Chairmanship in Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in 2012 and will therefore be expected to play an active role in dealing with any conflict in which these countries might be involved. 

I also plan to use this Summit as an opportunity to discuss economic and trade matters with certain EU partners and to promote Ireland as a place in which to do business, which I have done at every opportunity to date and will continue to do.  I will return to Dublin this evening in time to attend the St. Paul’s College Raheny’s Rugby Captains’ Dinner in Clontarf Castle.

I welcome the fact that there was more good news this week in terms of jobs announcements. On Monday, I was in Galway for the announcement of 200 new jobs at EA Games, Galway. EA is one of the world’s leading interactive games companies and this will further enhance Ireland’s position at the hub of the digital media sector.
These 200 new jobs will be in the company’s new European customer support centre and will bring the total workforce there to almost 400.

The Programme for Government highlights the digital game industry as a particular priority area for growth and the increased presence here of a company of EA’s status is very encouraging indeed. While in Galway, I also took the opportunity to meet with James Browne, President of NUIG.

Yesterday morning, I was delighted to officially open the new Dogpatch Lab in Dublin. Dogpatch already have labs in the US, but this is, significantly, the first of its kind in Europe, and the fact that they have chosen Dublin speaks volumes. The concept of these labs is to bring together a community of likeminded entrepreneurs who in turn share and pass on useful information and points of contact amongst them.

I believe that the presence of a company such as Dogpatch in our capital will add further to our international reputation as a centre for innovation and securing the first European Lab for Dublin is undoubtedly a significant vote of confidence in Ireland.

Ireland secured another first this week when online microblogging service Twitter announced that it has chosen Dublin to be the site of its new European HQ. Twitter is now set to join fellow technological giants Google and Facebook who already have bases in the capital. Also this week, accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Cooper announced the creation almost 300 new jobs, 250 of which will come from the company’s graduate recruitment programme.

I joined Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell at the Custom House on Tuesday where he was delivering his nomination papers. Nominations have now closed for the presidential election, which will take place on October 27th. Gay brings excellent credentials to this campaign and it is my expectation that he will ably display these credentials in the coming weeks.

I have spoken in the past of the need to utilise the skills and talents of our Diaspora all over the world and on Tuesday night, I joined Kingsley Aikens of Diaspora Matters and over 400 business and industry representatives in the Shelbourne Hotel to launch the Global Diaspora Strategies Toolkit. The Toolkit is intended to collate, analyse and learn from the experience of Diaspora organisations around the world, and to serve as a guide for all who are interested in developing programmes in this area.

I remain convinced that the Irish Diaspora has a pivotal role to play in Ireland’s economic recovery, and now there is an ever increasing number of means available to us to connect with that Diaspora, particularly through new media and technologies. These people are simply too talented and too experienced for their skills to be neglected.

Strengthening ties with our Diaspora and restoring Ireland’s international reputation abroad will also be on the agenda next weekend when the Global Irish Economic Forum takes place Dublin Castle. The Forum will also focus on engaging fully with the Irish Diaspora in order to best develop Ireland’s global business and trade relations. I am also delighted that President Bill Clinton has accepted my invitation to attend the forum. This event will contribute to our objective of demonstrating that, by 2016, Ireland can be the best small country in the world in which to do business.  

It is my belief that these recent announcements by such prestigious international companies as EA, Twitter and Price Waterhouse Cooper are indicative of an increasing confidence in Ireland as a productive place in which to do business. Of course, the battle has not yet been won, as highlighted by the threat of job losses this week in Athlone, but we do have much to be optimistic about. And if we can effectively harness the extensive talents and skills of our Diaspora all over the world we will have even more to be hopeful for. Kind regards

Yours sincerely

Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach

Enda Kenny

Weekly Message from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

Posted September 19th, 2011

The new Dail term is now underway after the summer break. On entering office, I pledged to lead a transparent Government and I will not sugar-coat the fact that there are challenges up ahead. I want to assure you now, however, that this Government has both the confidence and know how to deal with these challenges in the most effective way and in the most balanced manner possible.

I welcome the fact that the Greek Government has signalled that they are taking further actions to get their public finances in order and I anticipate that this issue will be high on the agenda of the meeting of Euro Area Finance Ministers that takes place at the weekend. In terms of Ireland’s bailout deal, we are firmly on track with our repayments and have met all requirements to date.

On Wednesday of this week, I met with Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers Inc, a company which currently employs approximately 2,300 people here in Ireland. These jobs are based in Limerick and Cherrywood, Dublin. Michael filled me in on the progress of Dell’s first Cloud Centre of Excellence at Cherrywood which is set to create 89 highly skilled specialist programming and engineering jobs. Recruitment is currently underway for these positions, and those who are successful will be responsible for innovating the next generation of cloud computing architectures, application design and prototyping.

Also fact that there are challenges up ahead. I want to assure you now, however, that this Government has both the confidence and know how to deal with these challenges in the most effective way and in the most balanced manner possible.

I welcome the fact that the Greek Government has signalled that they are taking further actions to get their public finances in order and I anticipate that this issue will be high on the agenda of the meeting of Euro Area Finance Ministers that takes place at the weekend. In terms of Ireland’s bailout deal, we are firmly on track with our repayments and have met all requirements to date.

On Wednesday of this week, I met with Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers Inc, a company which currently employs approximately 2,300 people here in Ireland. These jobs are based in Limerick and Cherrywood, Dublin. Michael filled me in on the progress of Dell’s first Cloud Centre of Excellence at Cherrywood which is set to create 89 highly skilled specialist programming and engineering jobs. Recruitment is currently underway for these positions, and those who are successful will be responsible for innovating the next generation of cloud computing architectures, application design and prototyping.

Also this week, I met Mr Kelly Martin, CEO of neuroscience-based biotechnology company Elan, who filled me in on the ongoing progress the company is making. Elan undertakes research, development, and commercial activities for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

He mentioned in particular the ongoing clinical trials by the company aimed at helping those with Alzheimer’s and Crohn’s disease and also informed me that the company has several very promising drugs in its pipeline which they hope will ease the suffering of those affected by these often devastating diseases.

Both the Tánaiste and Minister Richard Bruton have visited Waterford in the wake of the recent Talk Talk job loss announcement and Minister Bruton has directed IDA Ireland to draw up a jobs action plan for the South East in light of the job losses. In addition, representatives from the Department of Social Protection, the Community Welfare Service, MABS and FÁS are to travel to the Talk Talk facility to deliver a series of joint information presentations to staff, conduct Q&A sessions and generally help them in any way possible.

Yesterday evening, I met with representatives of the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Shelbourne Hotel. The board has over 600 CEOs, many of whom are due to travel to Ireland in October for the Global Irish Economic Forum, which President Clinton is also scheduled to attend. I emphasized to them the value of Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax rate as I know that this will be very important in terms of encouraging overseas business to our shores in the future. The 2nd Global Irish Economic forum takes place on 7 and 8 October and will involve some 280 delegates coming together to generate ideas to kick-start the Irish economy.

Today I am in the South East where I will open a new Irish language centre in Wexford before visiting the new Coca Cola plant in Wexford. I must say that the fact that a global brand in the league of Coca Cola has chosen to cement its base here in Ireland is very positive indeed and I hope and anticipate that this move will send a positive signal to other American multinationals – an unequivocal statement that Ireland is in no uncertain terms open for business. I also plan to pay a brief visit to the Enniscorthy Enterprise Centre which supports businesses startups and the upskilling of workers in Co. Wexford.

I would ask you all to support our Presidential candidate, Gay Mitchell MEP, by visiting his website at http://www.gaymitchell2011.com, liking his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/gaymitchell and following him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/GayMitchell2011 where you can keep up to date with all the news

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

Weekly Message from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Posted September 12th, 2011

I am very happy to resume my weekly message to members in anticipation of the new Dáil session.  Regrettably since I last wrote, our unemployment rate has climbed to 14.4%, a figure which does not take into account the 575 people whose jobs are to be terminated in Waterford’s Talk Talk call centre. I am saddened that these 575 are set to join the dole queue in less than thirty days in what is undoubtedly a huge blow to the South East.

I must also add that the failure of the company to give reasonable notice of this intention was very disappointing indeed and has ultimately deprived State employment agencies of adequate time to offer assistance. The short notice given was, above all else, discourteous to those who have served the company so well over the years. Minister Richard Bruton has called on the company to delay its withdrawal in order to ease the impact on the local community. He is also set to travel to Waterford to meet with those affected. Other Ministers will assist in the response to the situation and the Cabinet, at its meeting on Tuesday, requested Minister Ruairi Quinn to expedite his work regarding the approval of a Technological University for the South East.

One of the guest speakers at Fine Gael’s Special Parliamentary Party Meeting in Galway this week was Professor John FitzGerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) who, whilst acknowledging the bleakness of Ireland’s current situation, went on to give a very optimistic forecast in respect of the Irish economy.

Professor FitzGerald was open in his praise of decisions made by the Government to date, including the restructuring of the banks, and the jobs initiative. The current figures are stark but the fact remains that Ireland’s exports are improving and the trade surplus is rising.  Accordingly, we would hope that next year will see employment begin to increase once again.

Professor FitzGerald was joined in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway by Patrick Kennedy, Chief Executive of Paddy Power and Norah Gibbons, Head of Advocacy at Barnardos, who both gave considered and insightful presentations based on their respective fields.  This year’s meeting involved the largest ever gathering of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and allowed us to come together in advance of the reconvening of the Dáil on Wednesday next, 14th September.

I have written here in the past about cloud computing and the major role which I anticipate it will play in Ireland’s future and yesterday, I was in the Croke Park Conference Centre tc and Social Research Institute (ESRI) who, whilst acknowledging the bleakness of Ireland’s current situation, went on to give a very optimistic forecast in respect of the Irish economy.

Professor FitzGerald was open in his praise of decisions made by the Government to date, including the restructuring of the banks, and the jobs initiative. The current figures are stark but the fact remains that Ireland’s exports are improving and the trade surplus is rising.  Accordingly, we would hope that next year will see employment begin to increase once again.

Professor FitzGerald was joined in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway by Patrick Kennedy, Chief Executive of Paddy Power and Norah Gibbons, Head of Advocacy at Barnardos, who both gave considered and insightful presentations based on their respective fields.  This year’s meeting involved the largest ever gathering of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and allowed us to come together in advance of the reconvening of the Dáil on Wednesday next, 14th September.

I have written here in the past about cloud computing and the major role which I anticipate it will play in Ireland’s future and yesterday, I was in the Croke Park Conference Centre to open the Cloud Computing Summit 2011. The Government has committed to making Ireland a leader in this field and the huge attendance at yesterday’s summit was indicative of the level of enthusiasm for it from all over Ireland. Cloud computing is a new way of using and consuming IT.

This morning, I started the Cannonball Run Charity Car Rally in aid of Barretstown Castle and the wonderful work they do for sick children.  Earlier today, I also met with the Mayor of Beijing, which is now twinned with Dublin, to work towards increased activity in investment, trade and opportunity between Ireland and China. I hope to lead a delegation there later this year.

Tomorrow, I will attend a Fine Gael meeting in the Regency Hotel, Dublin before making my way out to Citywest for the 37th Rehab Group People of the Year Awards. Rehab continues to do absolutely wonderful work and these awards will honour those at community level who have done something really extraordinary.

I announced this week that, following the untimely death of Brian Lenihan in June, the bye election for Dublin West will take place on October 27th, the same day as the Presidential Election. Polling day will now involve four votes: the presidential election, the by-election and referendums on judges’ pay and powers for parliamentary committees.

Gay Mitchell’s campaign is now in full swing. If he continues in this vein, I believe that the presidency will be well within his grasp. I would like to appeal now to all Fine Gael supporters to get behind Gay to help maximise his vote next month. Fine Gael supporters played a central role in getting the Party back into Government after 14 years and I also have every belief in their ability to put Gay in the Áras. If elected, he would be outstanding at promoting Ireland’s cause abroad.

It is very hard to believe that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York took place ten years ago this week. On Sunday, I will attend a commemorative ceremony which has been organised by the US Embassy in the RDS Concert Hall. There, I will have the privilege of reading a Seamus Heaney poem entitled ‘Anything Can Happen’ and will reflec

Enda Kenny

Last weekend, Gay Mitchell MEP was nominated as the Fine Gael Candidate to contest the Presidential Election at the Party’s Selection Convention.I know that Gay has all the credentials to make an outstanding President if the Irish people choose to elect him.

I met with the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, in Dublin on Tuesday.


President Buzek has voiced his support for an interest rate reduction for Ireland. We have now secured almost total European support, and will continue to campaign in this regard at every opportunity.


This week’s decision by Moody’s Investor Services to downgrade Ireland’s credit rating was very surprising, as well as being completely at odds with the position of other rating agencies.


There is a widespread belief that the move was driven more by uncertainty about the European response to the debt crisis than to any uncertainty about Ireland’s performance.


The Troika reiterated this view yesterday, when they reported that Ireland remained on track in its IMF/EU plan, having met all its targets to date.


We will not be blown off course. However, in their comments, the Troika did refer to the need for European leaders to take urgent action to prevent the debt crisis spreading to other countries.


I agree that Europe must respond to what is a European problem.


The Eurogroup’s Finance Ministers met earlier this week, and signalled their intention to introduce a range of positive measures, including a lengthening in the maturities of loans and lowering the interest rates, which Minister Noonan has welcomed as a positive step for Ireland.


The Cloyne Report, which was published this week, is yet another sad reflection of Ireland’s painful history of clerical child abuse.


Disturbingly, however, the Report does not refer to events far in the distant past. All of these particular allegations were made in the period after 1996, when new and detailed procedures had been put in place to deal with complaints of this nature.


The Government and the Tánaiste have demanded explanations for these unacceptable actions.


Words no longer suffice when meeting the challenge of protecting the children of this country.


Minister Shatter yesterday announced that he is to introduce new legislation making it an offence for knowledge of incidents of abuse to be withheld. A statutory child protection code was announced by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald today.


Today, I am in Galway, where the schedule is hectic and varied.


This morning, I announced the creation of 145 new jobs at C&F Green Energy in Athenry, which provides wind turbines all over the country, proof that this industry is growing rapidly.


Early this morning, I attended the opening of NUI Galway’s most impressive new Engineering Building, now the largest school of engineering in the country with over 1,100 students, before attending the Galway Chamber President’s Business Awards in the Meyrick Hotel.


In the afternoon, I made my way to the Fairgreen Road to open the Jigsaw Centre, a facility that gives advice to 15-25 year olds.

Kind regards
Yours sincerely

Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach

Enda Kenny

When I became Taoiseach four months ago, I was under no illusion that all of the country’s problems could be fixed immediately.

I knew that many difficult decisions would have to be made and that the state the country was left in meant that everybody would have to play their part in our recovery.

I pledged then to try to the best of my ability to steer the country back to recovery, and I made it clear that I expected the same level of commitment and dedication from all of my Ministers.

Let me be very clear: I am not blind to the hurt and the anger caused by the closure of the Accident and Emergency department at Roscommon Hospital.

I am aware that hundreds travelled to Dublin on Wednesday of this week to voice that anger and indeed, I have met with many of those concerned myself, both in Roscommon and at my constituency office in Castlebar.

I wish to state in no uncertain terms that there is no intention whatsoever on the part of the Government to close down Roscommon Hospital.

We firmly believe that the country’s small hospitals should play a significant role in the Irish Health Service and, accordingly, the vast majority of the treatments that have been provided efficiently in Roscommon over the years will continue as before.

The bottom line here, however, is that the situation as it was in Roscommon Hospital was not conducive to patient safety as there was insufficient medical capacity to deal with all possibilities.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (H I QA) expressed serious concern in this regard about the situation in Roscommon, as well as in several other small hospitals.
Consultants in the Roscommon region have also expressed real fears relating to safety.
Minister Reilly has committed to reform the Irish Health Service. He must begin by finding the best and, crucially, the safest solution for all small hospitals.

We have been brought to this point, not by anyone individually, but rather by years of mismanagement by previous administrations.

Minister Reilly has a plan to put this right and these changes to Roscommon’s situation form part of that plan.

This week, the Minister for Health announced that the National Children’s Hospital is to be located at the Mater Hospital site. The announcement follows an independent review which named it as the ideal location for the facility.

An examination of the costs and clinical benefits of building at various sites was carried out by this independent panel.

We will now move swiftly to proceed with this project in the interest of the children of Ireland.

Once constructed, this will be one of the most significant capital investments carried out by the State and the Hospital will provide health services for Ireland’s children into the coming decades.

The Government remains committed to holding the Referendum on Judges’ Pay on the same day as the Presidential Election in the autumn. This will take place despite some degree of opposition.

The Bill to amend Article 35.5 of the Constitution to allow for reductions in the pay of the Judiciary is currently being drafted in the Office of the Attorney General.

The Referendum will ensure that the reductions in Judges’ salaries are confined to circumstances where public service pay generally, especially at senior levels, is being revised in the public interest.

The pressures the country is currently under means that everyone must pay their way, however unpalatable that may be.

Yesterday, I visited the impressive Microsoft facility in Sandyford with Minister Bruton. My appointments in the West today included launching the Mayo Advertiser’s ‘Buy Mayo’ Awareness Campaign, which will aim to encourage Mayo people to purchase their goods and services locally, in so far as possible. This is really something we should all aim to do.

Tomorrow, the Fine Gael Presidential Convention takes place in Regency Hotel, Drumcondra.

The selection process will be based on a new system which will see the Parliamentary Party account for 70 per-cent of the total vote and Councillors for 20 per-cent with the National Executive making up the remaining 10 per cent.

On Sunday, I will attend the National Day of Commemoration at The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

I welcome today’s High Court ruling on JLCs which I anticipate will have a positive impact on the Government’s plans to reform wage setting mechanisms, and, accordingly, contribute in a real way towards job creation.

I also welcome the news that mid-year exchequer figures released this week show that Ireland is meeting its targets in respect of the EU/IMF/ECB bailout.

I made a promise on March 9 to work towards a future when Ireland will once again take charge of its own economic destiny. That was my goal then and that is what I will work unreservedly for until such a time as I leave this office.

Kind regards
Yours sincerely

Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach

EndaKenny

This week’s message comes to you from County Kerry.

I have several appointments scheduled in this part of the country over the weekend, culminating in my address to the ICTU conference in the Gleneagle Hotel on Monday evening.

My day began in Limerick this morning where I visited Glenfield Engineering in Kilmallock and attended the opening of Broadford Community Enterprise Centre before opening Deputy Patrick O’Donovan’s constituency Office in Newcastlewest.

Tomorrow, I will take part in the Ring of Kerry Annual Charity Cycle with Minister Jimmy Deenihan. It is a gruelling course – 112 miles – but I know from last year’s event that the spectacular views along the route are reward enough.

The Bike Clinic in Castlebar has kindly provided me with a bicycle which will be auctioned for charity after I complete the course.

The Government has made it clear no bonuses should be paid for the time being to well-paid public servants, and I welcome the fact that many semi-state bosses this week surrendered these payments.

The previous situation was tremendously unfair and could not be allowed continue given our current economic circumstances.

This is not to take away from the hard work and achievements of these people, but we must be realistic and remember that this country is currently in an incredibly challenging position.

Everybody, starting with those at the top, is required to make a contribution and play their part in our recovery.

Accordingly, following consultation with Minister Michael Noonan,  Minister Pat Rabbitte sent a letter to the Chair of each State Company on May 13 stating that he is firmly of the view that such bonuses are inappropriate and that these payments should cease immediately.

Yesterday’s revelation that NTMA employees received over €2 million in bonuses last year is a slap in the face of each of the hard working people of Ireland who are making huge and sustained sacrifices in order to fund the agency, and I am strongly of the view that this is not acceptable.

Minister Brendan Howlin is currently looking at this particular area and will bring forward his report in due course.

Both the shortage of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors NCHDs and HIQA’s concerns about safety mean that the level of emergency service offered at Roscommon County Hospital will have to change.

Obviously, this is causing much concern for people dependant on this facility, and I met a number of them last Monday.

The fact is that the emergency service in Roscommon will ultimately depend on the number of NCHDs recruited later in the month.

The more there are recruited, the more flexibility the HSE will have in staffing Roscommon Hospital, and, indeed, the other regional hospitals around the country. The Government is committed to securing a real future for our smaller hospitals.

I was delighted to open the Tall Ships Festival in Waterford City yesterday afternoon.

An incredible 500,000 people are expected to visit the city over the four-day festival, bringing in an estimated €30 million to the local economy.

In excess of 50 ships will take part in the ships’ race itself, which kicks off early on Sunday morning. If you happen to be near a vantage point from which to see these spectacular ships sail by, I would heartily recommend it.

Each ship is stunning in its own right, but they are really breathtaking as a group.

On Sunday last I was in Castlebar’s McHale Park to see Mayo overcome Galway. At half-time, I met fellow Islandeady native, Ray Moylette, who won light-welterweight gold for Ireland in the European Senior Boxing Championships in Turkey last week.

Westmeath’s Joe Ward took light-heavyweight gold. The entire Irish team performed magnificently, and all involved are to be commended.

On Wednesday, I launched the National Internship Scheme with Minister Burton at the Facebook Building, Hanover Quay. This is a central component of the Government’s Jobs Initiative.  Over 1,000 firms have committed to participate in the scheme to date, providing over 5,000 placements.

Companies are encouraged to take on an intern for a period of six to nine months, giving them a period of vital work experience and increasing their chances of gaining full-time paid employment.
 
The job seeker must have been on the live register for three months or more to qualify, and will receive an additional 50 euro a week on top of their standard benefits for the duration of the placement.

All vacancies will be listed at www.jobbridge.ie from today, which is the day on which most elements of the Government’s Jobs Initiative come together.

Yesterday, I launched the Government’s Visa Waiver Scheme with Ministers Varadkar and Shatter at Government Buildings. The scheme is also operational from today.

This new initiative will allow tourists and business people from 16 countries already in possession of a valid British Visa to enter Ireland without a visa for a maximum period of 90 days.

I anticipate that the scheme will be taken advantage of in particular during the Olympic Games in London next year.
From today, there will also be a new lower rate of VAT on tourism-related services, and employers PRSI will be halved on jobs paying up to €356 per week.

This afternoon in Kerry, I attended an event with hotel and other business interests where I emphasised the importance of businesses passing on the VAT reduction to the consumer.

My time in Waterford yesterday, and in Limerick and Kerry today, has reminded me of just how much Ireland has to offer the overseas visitor, not least its stunning natural beauty, which is unrivalled throughout the world.

It is my hope that the various measures set out by the Government will help to bring sustained growth back into our tourism industry, and, in doing so, help to set Ireland on the road to recovery.

Kind regards
Yours sincerely

Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach

Fine Gael Launches General Election Campaign

I travelled to Brussels yesterday for a meeting of the European Council.

There is no doubt Europe is under a good deal of pressure at the present time due to the ongoing situation in Greece, and, naturally, this was top of the agenda.

More money has now been pledged to the Greeks, provided its parliament fully enacts an extensive austerity plan.

The meeting also considered the latest developments on economic issues and the Euro, and analysed progress made on a range of economic governance issues agreed in March.

Also discussed were other issues including migration into the European Union and the ongoing situation in certain North African countries, and the Middle East.

At the EU Summit last night, the opportunity arose to raise the issue of Ireland’s campaign for a reduction on our bailout interest rate directly with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

He agreed that the process of talks would continue in this regard.

I later explained to the meeting the efforts Ireland is making to meet the demands placed on us, and spelled out again the need for an interest rate reduction.

The Government will continue to pursue this matter at every opportunity.

My trip to London on Monday last focused on different ways in which we can potentially work together to help bring about economic recovery across Ireland and Britain.

A meeting of the British-Irish Council was attended by British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, as well as representatives from the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh Governments. 

The issue of the trade of renewable energy across the islands, and the possibility of collaboration between the UK and Ireland on wind power, was also discussed.

Later in the day, I met with British-based members of the Global Irish Network in the British Embassy.

While in London, I also welcomed the announcement of a change in the planned European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which will see loans to Ireland from private sources given the same status as loans from the ESM. The ESM is due to take over from the EU’s current bailout structure in 2013.

The Government has been campaigning for this change for some time.

The change applies only to the three current bailout countries, and will mean that current and future private sector lenders to the three countries will no longer have any fear of being “subordinated” to official European lenders in any ranking of creditors.

This is a very positive development for Ireland, and, indeed, for Europe as this new ‘level playing field’ will provide bondholders with a sense of confidence.

I took a short stroll down to the Royal College of Physicians on Wednesday for the announcement of a new alliance between the IMI (Irish Management Institute) and UCC. The partnership will allow leading research to be integrated into UCC’s teaching programmes.

It is hoped this will ultimately enhance the overall quality of Irish management, and make Ireland a leading location for executive education.

I believe the move has the potential to greatly improve the capacity of Ireland’s companies to compete internationally, by placing us at the forefront in management education and innovation, and building further on our business reputation.

I am aware of the perception that serious cutbacks in Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in Irish schools are on the cards. This is not the case. Any child in genuine need of an SNA will continue to have access to one.

A recent report on the value for money of SNAs and the efficiency of the current situation, however, concluded that there was in fact an over-allocation of SNAs, of 27 per-cent in primary and post-primary schools, and 10 per-cent in special needs schools.

The fact is that SNAs were sometimes awarded in the past, not due to a child’s disability, but rather for therapeutic or pedagogical reasons and this simply could not be maintained in our current climate.

The Minister for Education & Skills is currently allocating 90 per-cent of the SNA posts to those most in need of assistance and will hold back the last 10 per-cent (475 posts) in order to allocate them in cases such as emergency, appeals, acquired injuries or new entrants with special needs demands.

Rory McIlroy’s victory in the US Masters last weekend was a wonderful result for Northern Ireland. It was particularly inspiring in the face of the mayhem being unleashed by a small minority in Belfast at the same time. I have no doubt Rory will have a long and successful career.

The island of Ireland, North and South, has spectacular scenery and world-class golf courses, and I have called on Tourism Ireland to begin a promotional drive in the US to capitalise on this, and to market Ireland as the ‘home of golfing champions’.

Tomorrow, I will attend the official opening of the Peace Bridge in Derry.  The opening will be even more significant in light of this week’s despicable events in the Short Strand area of Belfast. This Government will continue to work closely and co-operate with the newly-elected Assembly and Executive in Northern Ireland, as this simply cannot be allowed to continue.

Kind regards
Yours sincerely

Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

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.

Kind regards
Yours sincerely

Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

I was very sorry indeed to hear that Brian Lenihan has lost his bravely fought battle with cancer.
Though we sat on opposite sides of the House, his dedication to his job was very obvious to me from the beginning of his political career.
That he remained so committed after the onset of his illness in 2009 was nothing short of inspiring as he courageously continued to fulfill his ministerial responsibilities in the most challenging and difficult of circumstances.
I would like to extend my sincere sympathy to his wife Patricia, and to his children, Tom and Clare.
Yesterday, I attended former Fine Gael TD Declan Costello’s funeral mass in Donnybrook Church, which is also where Garret FitzGerald’s funeral took place only weeks ago.
Declan will be remembered for his intelligence, integrity and tireless work for the good of the Irish people.
He will also be remembered for writing the Fine Gael policy document ‘Towards a Just Society’, which had a huge impact on the Party back in 1964 and has since helped shape the Fine Gael Party into what it is today.
He assumed the post of Attorney General in 1973, and made a hugely significant contribution in that field during his four-year tenure before he left politics to continue what was a highly successful legal career.
In recent weeks, Irish politics has lost three hugely significant figures and they will each be sorely missed. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamnacha.
The Government continues to seek a reduction in the interest paid on Ireland’s bailout loans.
The case we have put forward for a reduction is supported by the EU Commission, the IMF and the OECD.
However, any proposed cut must have the unanimous support of all 27 EU countries and the situation is that we are experiencing difficulties in obtaining the support of all member states in this regard.
We will, however, continue to strongly pursue the issue. The raising of our corporation tax rate would be absolutely catastrophic for Ireland and remains totally off the table.
On Tuesday, Dell announced the creation of 150 jobs in Cherrywood, Dublin and Limerick.
The new jobs will be in the emerging field of Cloud Computing which involves the storing of information and data over a wireless network or “cloud” instead of physically on a device.
This eliminates the need for software, as that available in the cloud can instead be used to process and store the data and to access various programmes as required.
Dell proposes to build a ‘Cloud Computing Research and Development Centre’ – which will play an important role in positioning Ireland as a centre of excellence in the field in the future.
A recent report by Microsoft predicted that the cloud computing industry in Ireland would be worth €9.5 billion by 2014, employing an estimated 8,600 people.
Also this week, cyber security firm Mycroft announced that it is to create 50 jobs in the cloud computing field, in a further indication of the potential of Ireland to become a world leader in this regard.
The Government has pledged €5 million over the next five years to the development of this area, including the provision of a new applied research centre in Cloud Computing.
The potential is massive, but there are some security issues to iron out in the coming months.
The e-coli epidemic around the world is certainly a cause for concern even though there has been no trace of it to date in Ireland.
However, we must not be complacent. Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, this week attended an emergency meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg where he discussed the issue with his European counterparts.
The situation is also being closely monitored by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
This week I called on Sinn Féin to ask IRA activists for information relating to the murders of Jean McConville and Garda Jerry McCabe.
This is not an unreasonable request, given that Gerry Adams this week stated that they have encouraged former IRA members to engage with the Smithwick Tribunal.
I do hope they use any influence they might have to ensure that those responsible for these heinous murders are brought to justice.
Today, I chaired a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council in Farmleigh House.
This was the Irish Government’s first meeting with the new Executive following the recent Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness both attended the meeting which focused on cross-border cooperation and it’s potential to aid economic recovery, both north and south.
I would like to wish all those sitting the Leaving and Junior Cert exams the very best of luck.
It is many years now since I was in that position myself, but if I could offer any advice it would be to avoid studying too late into the night, which can be tempting, but is rarely wise!

Kind regards

Yours sincerely
Enda Kenny TD

Taoiseach

  • Twitter

    I'm certain they had an excellent visit, would have been great to have been with them. @joecimperman @gmfus @CCarpCleveland
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    Fantastic result for @StaroftheSeabns Big congrats to the team and all the supporters #coybib
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