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'We have turned this ship around -- but we're still in choppy waters'

ONE year after entering power, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted last night that the Government had "turned this ship" in the right direction.

However, a day after Fine Gael called off a photocall to mark its first year in office, Mr Kenny admitted that "every party wants to promote what they do themselves".

Asked how his party was getting on with its coalition partners, Mr Kenny said Fine Gael was "working very well with the Labour Party".

He dismissed suggestions of difficulties between the two parties.

"Take it from me, there is a very close strong working relationship with the Labour Party. We have the strongest mandate in the history of our State to implement our programme," he said.

A year after taking power, Mr Kenny said the Government "has made a very solid start to what was a very challenging position". He said: "The priority of the Government for the next 12 months is jobs, jobs and jobs."

Mr Kenny was speaking at the Strand Hotel in Limerick for a jobs forum, accompanied by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

"We have turned this ship. We are heading in the right direction. We are in choppy waters and fragile waters I might say, but Government is very conscious of that.

"This Government is not only listening, this Government is going to lead and going to act in the interest of creating jobs and stimulating the growth agenda," he added.

Sympathy

After a multi-billion euro Greek debt deal was reached yesterday, Mr Kenny said: "Ireland has spent the last 12 months proving that we are a very different country and that we are in a different space. We have come through five intensive assessments with the troika," he said.

Mr Noonan said he had sympathy for Greek people.

"We had a teleconference on Greece with the other finance ministers around Europe. Things have gone very well in concluding the Greek deal. I assume now that money will be drawn down by Greece next week.

"But if money weren't available, they (Greece) were broke. They were totally insolvent," Mr Noonan said.

"Their situation is way worse than our situation. The conditions attached to the draw-down of the money are far more rigorous.

"At one level, people might say Greece has got a big writedown on its debt, but there was no other alternative. They were going to go broke. Even with the write-offs, their debt won't be down to 120pc of GDP until 2020, whereas we peak next year and our debt will start declining after that," Mr Noonan added.

Irish Independent