Cowen calls to eliminate negativity

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has called on all sectors of society to accentuate the positives in the economy and eliminate negativity.

He said the country had to sell itself abroad and its stability could not be restricted by indigenous efforts to hammer down the recovery.

He was particularly critical of last week’s analysis of the Merrill Lynch report which the Government received in the hours leading up to the 2008 banking guarantee, a copy of which was recently released to the Public Accounts Committee.

He claimed the report had actually supported the Government’s decision to rescue the banks.

“I would ask the media to look at all of the [Merrill Lynch] report. We have enough of, frankly, this pervasive negativity all the time trying to take a bad interpretation of a report which in fact was supportive of what Government is doing.

“So could we kindly get the real message out there,” he said.

Mr Cowen spoke at the launch of a new strategy for agriculture and fisheries in Ireland.

He was asked about the decision of Moody’s rating agency to marginally downgrade Ireland.

Mr Cowen said this was being dealt with and said consumer confidence would be essential to any recovery in all sectors.

“What we have got to do... is this: domestically, internal confidence – and every one has a role to play in this. Confidence is not based on putting our head in the sand... But it is confidence based on a realistic assessment of this country’s ability to confront the problems we have and get out of the difficulties we are in,” he said.

The Taoiseach, who tomorrow will chair an all-day meeting of his Cabinet to lay the groundwork for the upcoming budget discussions, claimed the Government had won international respect for the decisions it has taken so far.

And he said this has to be acted on in a progressive fashion to get ahead of other exporting countries in foreign markets.

“Now we have to get out into those [international] markets and sell. Our competitors are going out to sell. We have to get out there and sell. And whatever it takes for us to price ourselves back in to the market place, so we can have export-led recovery, that is what this Government is committed to doing,” he said.

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