Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday claimed only two more tough budgets would be needed to get the public finances back in order.
Mr Gilmore also said government policy was decided by the Programme for Government, thereby undermining proposals passed by Labour Party members opposing the sale of state assets and legalising abortion.
Ahead of the EU fiscal treaty referendum, the Tanaiste rejected suggestions the treaty would mean permanent austerity.
"The treaty does not require years of tough budget rules. What the treaty contains are the budgetary rules that are already a condition for our membership of the euro.
"And I think that is one of the fundamental misunderstandings, if you like, about the treaty. The treaty is about stabilising the euro.
"Treaty or no treaty, we have to get our deficit down. We cannot continue to borrow €44m every day," he said.
Labour Party members passed a motion rejecting the sale of semi-state assets. But Mr Gilmore later specifically referred to using "proceeds from state-asset disposals" for job creation.
"The government policy is based on the Programme for Government, which was approved at the special delegate conference of the party in the O'Reilly Hall last year.
"Obviously the Labour Party and Labour Party ministers will take very much into account and take seriously any of the motions that were passed here at this conference," he said.
The conference in Galway also passed a motion calling for wider legalisation of abortion.
Going beyond legislating for the X-case, the conference substantially supported the "need to provide abortion to be carried out legally in Ireland on grounds wider than the risk to life or risk to health, in accordance with a truly pro-choice policy".
The Government is currently awaiting an expert report on how to respond to a European Court of Human Rights ruling on the failure to legislate for the X-case.
"I think the immediate issue that has to be dealt with is the outcome of the European Court of Human Rights. And what the Government has done, in line with the Programme for Government, is establish an expert group and see how that can be progressed."
In his keynote address to the Labour Party centenary conference, Mr Gilmore outlined the Government's plan for repairing the economy.
He lamented the lack of progress on job creation and mortgage debt for homeowners. He also said the Government would reclaim the country's economic independence and "say goodbye to the troika".
"Our objective is to be out of the EU/IMF programme within two years, to be able to sell Irish government bonds on the financial markets, and to stand on our own two feet again. But to do that, we have to get our budget deficit down," he said.
Turning to the Mahon Tribunal, he praised his party's ethical record.
"I am proud that after 20 years of tribunals, no wrongdoing has ever attached to the Labour Party," he said.
IT WAS all quite colourful and theatrical for a while. As the protesters streamed onto the NUIG campus on Saturday afternoon, among the forest of placards and banners materialised a quartet of men clad in orange boiler suits and the accessory du jour for professional protesters -- the white V for Vendetta masks.