Ireland PM Enda Kenny says the country's 'credibility' is restored

Enda Kenny: "The government will work with you to put in place the foundations for a secure and prosperous future"

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The Irish Republic's prime minister has marked the end of the country's bailout programme with a speech to the nation.

In a televised address, Enda Kenny said Ireland's "good name and our credibility" had been restored.

He warned that difficult economic decisions remained, with a new medium-term economic plan due to be set out this week.

But he promised that never again would "Ireland's stability be threatened by speculation and greed".

Ireland is the first eurozone nation to complete the lending deal put in place by a group of international lenders, known as the troika.

The country was rescued with a three-year 85bn euro ($117bn; £71bn) package when borrowing on the financial markets became too expensive and Ireland faced bankruptcy.

Start Quote

It does send out a powerful signal internationally, that Ireland is fighting back”

End Quote Enda Kenny Prime Minister

From Monday, Ireland regains its financial independence and is once again able to raise money on the capital markets in the same way as other countries.

'No overnight change'

The Taoiseach said: "Ireland will again stand as a full member of the eurozone, with the same rules, obligations, supports and opportunities as all other member states."

The troika - the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank - had held significant control over policymaking and the direction of the Irish economy.

The troika insisted on tax rises, structural reforms and the sale of state assets in exchange for the bailout, and reviewed Ireland's progress every three months.

The country's economic destiny was now back in its own hands, the prime minister said. "This is an important step but it is not an end in itself. Our lives won't change overnight.

"But it does send out a powerful signal internationally, that Ireland is fighting back, that the spirit of our people is as strong as ever."

The Irish economy is emerging from one of the deepest recessions in the eurozone, and is forecast to grow by about 2% next year. Unemployment has fallen below 13%, from a 15.1% peak in 2012.

Job-creation

But, said Mr Kenny, "we must continue to pursue prudent budgetary policies. That's what convinces those who create jobs that Ireland is a place in which they can invest with confidence.

"Everyone knows that you can't keep spending more than you are earning. As of today, we have already completed over 90% of the necessary cuts and tax increases.

"As a result, we can now begin to reduce the national debt burden."

Job-creation would be at the heart of this week's economic plan, he said.

"Three years ago, 1,600 jobs were being lost in this country every week. Now - every week - over 1,000 extra new jobs are being created.

"That's progress, but we must build on it.

"We will remove the barriers to new jobs in key sectors, and reform the welfare system to provide supports and incentives for unemployed people to take up new jobs," he said.

The economies of Greece, Portugal and Cyprus continue to be supported by the bailout process.

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