Employment and economy to dominate FG Ard Fheis

Employment and economy to dominate FG Ard Fheis

Debates on jobs and the economy will dominate day two of the 76th Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who opened the event at the Convention Centre last night, will deliver his key note address at 8.30pm tonight.

Around 4,000 grassroot members of the party are attending the Ard Fheis, the first since last year's General Election result.

Security is tight as a number of protests are being held to coincide with the gathering, including one organised by opponents of the controversial household charge.

"I am glad to report to you that our partnership government is working very well with a shared commitment to delivering our Programme for Government," Mr Kenny told delegates in his opening address last night.

"We have made a solid start but we have a long way to go."

Referring to the €100 household charge, Mr Kenny said he knew that new taxes were never popular.

"The household charge is no exception," he said.

"But it is needed to fund essential local services.

"I thank those who have registered and paid for the charge to date and I welcome the significant increase in the numbers registering in recent days."

Mr Kenny also said he was confident that the Irish people will ratify the EU fiscal compact in the referendum to be held May 31.

He said the treaty "will ensure other EU members follow the same sound budget rules we ourselves have now adopted, build confidence in both Europe and Ireland, and ensure that investment and jobs keep flowing into our country".

"This referendum offers this country a vital and unique opportunity to send out a powerful signal around the globe that Ireland believes in the future of Europe, and of the Euro currency," Mr Kenny said.

"In committing to these good housekeeping rules, we will also ensure that no future government will behave recklessly with the people’s money and the people’s futures."

He also said that he wanted to ensure Ireland continued to have access to the "insurance policy" of the European Stability Mechanism, which he said was a crucial reassurance for potential investors in Ireland.

"The best way we can ensure this is a resounding Yes to jobs, Yes to Ireland and Yes to Europe on May 31," he said.

Mr Kenny also revealed that he has appointed Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to coordinate the Government's campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum.

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