NATURE shows that turtles only advance when they are ready to stick their necks out of their shells. This week was the first in a long time that this country has been seen to move forward on two important fronts; one economic, the other social.
In both instances progress was as a result of laying it straight on the line, and taking bold steps . The Government, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, deserve credit for lifting the economic siege; and also for hammering home a blunt message that has put Church/State relationships on a new footing.
The era when the Government of the day was passive, and Rome was the dominant partner in Church/State relationships seems over.
But returning to the economic outlook: it is worth noting that the significant interest cut was secured despite a steadfast refusal to budge on the corporation tax issue.
The new EU programme also means that a second bailout for Ireland is "off the table", according to Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
Mr Noonan's view that the deal was "very good news", and that "very significant steps" had occurred, seems to have been endorsed, judging by the reaction of the markets yesterday.
Just the same, the Government was quick to insist that the new terms would not, in the short-term at least, dispense with the hair-shirt.
"There's a commitment that if countries continue to fulfil the conditions of their programme, the European authorities will continue to supply them with money even when the programme concludes," he said.
This commitment is indeed significant.
But it contains an uncompromising caveat of compliance and conformity.
Security comes at the cost of strict allegiance to the terms of the pact.
Beyond our own interests, the package is designed to prevent contagion to other European economies, and also shore up the euro.
To survive such a sustained period of unprecedented turbulence is in itself a considerable achievement
After two years of stagnation and despondency a new dynamic has been activated, which has to be welcomed.