Tuesday 19 November 2019

EPP Congress: Angela Merkel praises Ireland's 'success' following bailout

Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described Ireland as a "success" and paid tribute to the Irish people for their endurance during difficult times.

Addressing the EPP Congress in Dublin today, Dr Merkel said the country's exit from the bailout was a considerable achievement.

"I would like to thank Enda Kenny for their warm hospitality for a country that has gone through difficult times, braved those times. It has been so successful to be the first ones to leave the bailout," Dr Merkel said.

She told delegates that while the past few years have been incredibly tough, but said the EPP has played a significant role in rescuing the single currency.

"We have had to struggle to keep Europe's head above water. Even when in Europe is in trouble, it can be successful. We believe in people. we are not a party that believes everything needs to be done by the state, we believe in individual freedoms," she said.

She referenced U2 singer Bono who earlier addressed delegates saying he had "given us a different view of Europe, from a different angle".

In his address, Bono said Europe "is a thought that needs to become a feeling".

He paid tribute to Taoiseach Enda Kenny who he called a "modest man" and his ministers for their efforts in putting the country back on track.

Bono also paid tribute to Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party.

"Real leadership has cost the Labour Party real votes and I thank them for it," he said. He called on delegates and European leaders to seek to be less self-centred rather to be better neighbours to each other.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there is little about the suffering of the Irish people he would recommend to other EU leaders.

Addressing delegates at the European People's Party (EPP) Congress in Dublin, Mr Kenny was responding to a raft of tributes paid to him, his Government and the Irish people for the progress made since the crisis.

Mr Kenny said: "There is little about the suffering of the irish people I would recommend to others.

The cuts were brought about by any adherence to a ideology but were "necessitated by the massive crisis this government inherited," he said.

Outgoing EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso joined the chorus of tributes to the Irish people.

"This was the first country to exit of the bailout. Thank you to Enda Kenny. This was due to your leadership, your government, your ministers and the courage of the Irish people," he said.

Mr Barroso, who became President in 2004, said these have "been ten very challenging, very exciting years. The last five years have been the most difficult since the beginning of European integration."

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