Brian Cowen today insisted unpopular measures are needed in the Budget to cope with the greatest economic crisis to face the world in over a generation.
In a clear signal of the gravity of the financial turmoil facing the country, the Taoiseach said the government had to do whatever was necessary to bring stability.
At the Annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration at Bodenstown, Co Kildare, he said the Irish people would not want him to shy away from tough decisions and short-term sacrifices in Tuesday’s Budget.
“It is in this context that I would like to make a few comments about what is the greatest economic crisis to face the world in over a generation,” he said.
“When confronted with economic, financial and budgetary pressures of the scale and pace of those being seen at the moment, there is an immediate challenge placed before everyone in public life.
“The prevailing question is – will we act for the long-term even where this requires tough and unpopular measures?
“Or will we take the soft option of focusing merely on the short-term and thereby avoid hard decisions in the hope that problems will simply disappear?”
Mr Cowen said history showed the only way to deliver long-term economic and social improvements is to do whatever is required to ensure economic and fiscal stability.
“I don’t believe that the Irish people would want us to shy away from the difficult decisions we must now make,” he said.
“We will make the necessary tough choices so that we can chart a course for economic renewal to bring us beyond the current short-term difficulties towards a stable long-term growth rate.”
The Taoiseach said although the causes are rooted in a difficult to understand international financial system the ultimate impact can be very real for ordinary people.
Mr Cowen also evoked Wolfe Tone’s international links to illustrate the importance of the European Union in helping Ireland deal with its own problems.
Urging a debate on the outcome of the Lisbon Treaty referendum, he said: “The Irish nation should not turn inwards. To prosper economically and socially, we must look further afield.”
After the commemoration, Mr Cowen left for an emergency meeting in Paris of leaders from the 15 countries that use the Euro to discuss the global financial turmoil.