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Wait-and-see Kenny stays tight lipped on next Budget

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny was remaining tight-lipped yesterday about the next Budget -- as he hailed the referendum result.

He backed up the controversial comments of Finance Minister Michael Noonan during the campaign that the Budget would have been worse if there had been a No vote, damaging investor confidence and growth.

The next Budget is due to contain €200m less in cuts and tax increases than last year.

"We'll have to wait and see what the extent of the state of the public finances will be as we decide on the Budget in the foreseeable future," Mr Kenny said.

Fine Gael and Labour were relieved to have avoided an EU poll defeat -- with one source pointing out that the loss of the Lisbon referendum in 2008 had been the first "death knell of the Cowen government".

In his victory speech outside Government buildings, Mr Kenny acknowledged that some of the Government's measures had been painful. But he denied that the fiscal treaty would lock the country into a future of austerity, saying he expected economic growth to have a big role.

"There is no question of anybody else setting our budgets here. Clearly, we're in a (bailout) programme and we have exceeded some of the targets in the six assessments we've had," he said.

Party organisers said Mr Kenny clocked up close to 20,000km during the campaign.

Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney praised members for their poll efforts.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore emphasised that a growth strategy was now needed in Europe. The party denied suggestions its canvassing had been limited due to the strength of public opposition it encountered.

Director of elections Joan Burton played down the fact that two Dublin constituencies that voted No -- South Central, South West and North West -- had two Labour TDs in them.

Irish Independent Supplement