Cowen upbeat for employers in face of protest
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen told employers last night the economy would start growing again this year after going through "the worst recession in the history of the State".
But he warned this would not eliminate the need for €3bn in cuts in the forthcoming Budget or the need for the public service to quickly implement the recently agreed Croke Park modernisation agreement.
"The continued turbulence in financial markets is a warning that we cannot be complacent. The international outlook in particular is not yet as secure as we might like. That is why we must keep a clear focus on those factors that are ours to control," he said.
Mr Cowen braved a crowd of around 300 protesters chanting "Shame on you, Shame on You" before he delivered his upbeat message at the annual dinner of the employers' group IBEC.
The protest saw members of left-wing groups address the crowd who claimed the meals cost €1,200 per head on the night.
One man was arrested for unsuccessfully trying to spit at the Taoiseach.
Despite loudhailer predictions by protesters that he would use the back entrance, Mr Cowen walked into the front entrance of the Mansion House and greeted IBEC representatives with a smile.
He was protected by a member of his entourage bearing an umbrella to wield off any flying objects.
Mr Cowen addressed the central point made by new IBEC president Leo Crawford at the dinner -- the need to get the 439,000 people on the Live Register back to work. He told IBEC members that jobs would be created by increased exports of goods and services, which would also create indirect jobs in the domestic services, retail and construction sectors.
But the Government could only create the conditions for employers to thrive in, he said.
"So, sustainable job creation will have to be driven by the enterprise sector. In other words, by the people around this room tonight," he said.
"Securing confidence is central to our economic recovery - confidence to lend, confidence to spend, confidence to invest, confidence to hire," he said.
There were around 500 guests at the black-tie dinner hosted by IBEC in the Round Room in the Mansion House -- the location where the First Dail met in 1919.
Those companies who paid to attend included two banks being bailed out by the State through the recapitalisation scheme and the National Asset Management Agency -- AIB and EBS Building Society.
Although Mr Cowen has made rousing speeches in the past to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, his speech last night was low-key. He spoke about positive signs such as recent international investments.