Fine Gael TD for Donegal North East, Joe McHugh, has acknowledged Donegal has suffered in the financial crisis – but is now bouncing back.
Mr McHugh was speaking as Ireland exits the bailout today, saying it will help to build confidence in Ireland, boost our growth potential and get the country back on a sustainable economic path.
“The Irish people deserve huge credit for getting the country to where it is today, after five very difficult years of economic adjustments. When the failed economic policies of Fianna Fáil led us into a bailout at the end of 2010, our public finances were in disarray, the international markets had deserted us, and Ireland reputation in Europe was in tatters,” said Deputy McHugh.
“Now, the economy is recovering, the public finances are under control, the banking sector has been restructured and, most importantly, jobs are being created.
“In Donegal, we continue to face challenges such as the development of the A5 road and with it the journey time from Dublin city.
“However, it’s important to acknowledge that there have been some positive achievements for the county, whether it’s the investment of €19 million in a sewerage scheme or today’s announcement that Donegal will receive the highest General Purpose Grants in 2014, a total of €22,720,760.
“We continue to deal with both the economic legacy issues due to partition and also historical lack of investment by previous Governments in the North West, particularly when money was readily available in the last two decades.
“For the last three years, the Fine Gael-led Government has been working towards exiting the bailout, which is an important milestone on our path to economic recovery.
“This doesn’t mean that all of our problems are solved overnight, but it does mean that Ireland can return to being a normal Eurozone country, putting the boom bust policies of the past behind us.
“Every step that has been taken by the Government in the last three years has had a jobs focus. This approach is paying dividends.
“When this Government took office, 1,600 jobs were being lost every week, now we are in a situation where more than 1,000 net new jobs are being created every week. Over the last year, employment has increased by 58,000, and unemployment has dropped for the last 17 months in a row.
“It is now essential that we build on this economic progress and continue on a sustainable growth path. We are ahead of target in terms of reducing the deficit, and our debt will begin to fall from next year. The economy is expected to grow for the fourth year in a row in 2014, and consumer sentiment is at a six year high and property prices are starting to recover.
“The Government is determined to pursue post-bailout policies that will safeguard the stability of our public finances and boost economic growth. Next week, the Government will publish the Mid-Term Economic Strategy, which will set out how we plan to build on the recovery and enhance job creation in the years ahead.
“I know the people of Donegal have had a difficult few years, but I am encountering a renewed confidence and sense of optimism in our ability as a country and a society to get back on our feet. Our economic recovery is down to the resilience and sacrifices of the Irish people, and I am confident that their efforts will be rewarded as we continue to create jobs and prosperity returns.”