Monday 22 January 2018

Ireland will rid itself of the "shackles" of the Troika - Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said Ireland will rid itself of the "shackles" of the Troika on Sunday and will wake up on Monday as a "normal" European country.

Mr Kenny also signalled that relief in the form of income tax cuts for "hard pressed" families could feature in next year's Budget, should economic growth be sufficiently strong.

"Clearly the figures that will become available to Government from June, July, August, the Budget will be next October, and the Government will monitor the situation from January.  But we will decide then on the basis of what the growth figures are, what the income figures are, how best to give relief where it can be given," he said.

But Mr Kenny added that any suggestion of tax cuts will not happen at the expense of the country's recovery.

"Mr Noonan was pointing out that 2015 and 2016 will be important years. We have to get this right. We are not going to blow away the momentum we have achieved, just because the Troika have returned home," Mr Kenny said.

He said "all of the credit" for reaching this point goes to the Irish people who have made a great many sacrifices to enable the country exit the three-year Troika bailout.

When asked about the sense of pride being expressed by the Irish people this weekend on leaving the bailout, Mr Kenny said they have "every reason to be proud".

"It is an important moment for Ireland, it is an important moment for our people. It is an important moment psychologically that we are no longer driven by the requirements of the Troika. Those shackles are gone on Monday. We make our decisions. Yes, it is an important day for Ireland," he said.

Speaking to reporters at the opening of a new Glen Dimplex facility in Dunleer, Co Louth, Mr Kenny was also asked about what he will say in his state of the nation address on Sunday night.

"Well I am going to say in all the circumstances, it is time the people had some little relief to have a happy Christmas," he said.

Despite the ending of the Troika programme, Mr Kenny did concede that further progress in the Irish banking sector is needed.

"The banking culture has not changed sufficiently yet. We still have difficulties with elements of the banking situation. The European Council meeting next will be taken up in the main by the banking union question. The finance ministers are also meeting on this matter and I hope they can conclude on some issues. This is unfinished business," he added.

Sean O'Driscoll, Chief Executive of Glen Dimplex paid tribute to the Taoiseach in delivering the country from the bailout.

"Our economy is no longer shattered on the floor. It is on the way up. I believe the economy is growing faster than the official statistics, because they tend to lag. You see it in the volume of traffic on the road, people are more confident," he told the Irish Independent.

"This time thee years ago I was in Australia and it was the night the Troika arrived in Dublin. There were cameras and satellite vans all over Merrion Square. I was sitting there saying this should never have happened. This morning I was in Government Buildings and meeting the foreign journalists. Just the sense of personal pride relative to the sense of personal devastation three years ago is remarkable," he added.

DANIEL McCONNELL Political Correspondent

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