Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin welcomes Ireland’s exit from the troika programme – but said there is much more to be done.
In a response address to the speech by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night, Mr Martin also praised the “sacrifices and hard work of the Irish people”
“Important progress has been achieved over the past five years,” he said. “That said the impact of this crisis is still being felt throughout our country and across Europe.”
“There is much more that can and should be done to achieve a faster and fairer recovery.”
He warned that the country is at risk of a "two-tier recovery" - and proposed a series of initiatives and focus areas to ensure a prosperous balance is achieved.
Mr Martin said that youth unemployment is the "one of the biggest challenges" facing society today.
"Direct action is required not only to improve the pace of job creation but also to deliver more high-quality, well-paid jobs," he said.
He then insisted that small businesses "are the drivers of job creation and the heartbeat of our economy".
"We have put forward a series of initiatives to help small businesses in practical ways such as reducing commercial rates," he continued.
The Fianna Fail leader also commented of the difficulty felt by Irish mortgage holders and called for more support in this area.
"It’s time for an independent Mortgage Resolution Office to be set up that can help bring family debts down and keep them in their homes," he proposed.
Furthermore, "morale has never been lower amongst those working in the health service", said Mr Martin.
"Medical cards are being taken from those who need them most, children with special needs, people with multiple medical conditions and the elderly."
He went on to say that "Irish politics still needs real change" and spoke of his belief in "constructive opposition".