FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has hailed the exit from the bailout as a ''very significant milestone'' but warned it wasn't the ''end of the road''.
He said the ''real heroes and heroines'' of the last three years were the Irish people. He said those who have suffered most are those who have lost their homes, and the jobless who were forced to emigrate.
Mr Noonan said nothing would change except it will be the politicians of the country that will be making the decisions, instead of a sharing of responsibility with the troika.
The minister was marking the exit from the bailout, officially due to take place on Sunday, with a press conference with Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin.
''The real heroes and heroins of the story are the Irish people.,'' Mr Noonan said.
''They had taxes increased services cut drastically.''
Mr Noonan said the tough fiscal policies must be continued as the country's debt remains high.
But he said policies must be fostered to encourage the economy and create jobs.
Mr Howlin also praised the Irish people, claiming they knew anger was not a solution and they realised that following the austerity programme was sensible and logical.
''I acknowledge the debt this country owes ... to the forebearance of the Irish people,'' Mr Howlin said.
Asked why there were not more protests over the last three years, Mr Howlin said: ''We had our own democratic revolution in the early part of 2011. The party that was in government for the bulk of the last 40 years here was not only put out of office, but devastated.
''People had their venting. They had their riot. They did it in democracy and in the polling booth.
''It is to the extraordinary credit of the Irish people that they weren't beguiled by the fanciful economics of making it go away.
''We realised that this real crisis would bring us down if we didn't address it. The bulk of the people weren't happy with what needed to be done.''