Friday 19 January 2018

Taoiseach lavishes praise on Creighton for 'invaluable work'

Shona Murray Strasbourg

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny heaped praise on European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton as Fine Gael's rising star contemplates her future in the party.

Mr Kenny paid tribute to Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Ms Creighton for their "invaluable contribution" to Ireland's EU Presidency.

She accompanied the Taoiseach to Strasbourg following her keynote speech on the abortion legislation.

Mr Kenny made particular reference to their work in securing political agreement on the EU's seven-year budget.

Wrapping up Ireland's seventh EU Presidency with a speech to the European Parliament, Mr Kenny said tackling the "horror of youth unemployment" was the "one single issue" of the presidency.

Mr Kenny said at this "difficult juncture" and "particularly torrid period" it was important the markets now saw that "Europe could solve its problems".

He added that Ireland's achievements during the past six months had now "bolstered the credibility of our union".

Mr Kenny outlined the delivery of a number of key agreements during the EU Presidency period including the so-called MFF– the EU's Multi-annual Financial Framework.

The agreement for the €960bn investment programme was delivered just last Thursday after months of "frustration" and "differences of opinion".

It covers infrastructure, education, research, and agriculture and will now be reviewed again in 2016 at the behest of the European Parliament.

The Taoiseach said while it was an "understatement" to say not everyone was happy with the deal, a commitment in the final stages to frontload €8bn towards initiatives tackling youth unemployment had now "bolstered the credibility of the European Union".

STRUGGLING

Mr Kenny described as "heartening" the commitment from all member states to provide training, education or 'the chance of a new job' for people under the age of 25 within four months of becoming unemployed, under the newly created Youth Guarantee scheme.

He said the scheme was "one of the most significant signals to Europe's struggling men and women, that Europe is rising to the challenge.

Ireland is likely to benefit from these measures due to its 26.7pc youth unemployment rate, but it is not yet clear by how much.

Irish Independent

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