The Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, said the Irish people have been to hell and back, and 2014 will be the most important year for the country since the crisis began.
Addressing delegates at the Labour national conference in Meath tonight, Gilmore indicated that those who have paid the most in the crisis will get something back.
14 weeks before the local elections, he said the choices the people will make must be to protect the recovery and make sure it is felt by the people.
"This year, 2014, may be the most important year since the crisis began … because the choices we make now as we leave the bailout behind – these are the choices that will shape our future this year, next year, and for the years to come," he said.
"We have the choice of going back to the bad old days, when Ireland was run by a different troika - a troika of bankers, developers and Fianna Fáil. Or we can work together to build a better, fairer, and more prosperous and tolerant Ireland."
He said Ireland must move on with the next phase: how to go from improving bond yields to improving living standards.
"Too many of our people are still just getting by … existing rather than living. Too many people are worried about what next week and next month will bring, and about the future of their children.
"These are the people for whom we have to make recovery real."
He also said changing the country is not just about the economy. Labour, he said, has legislated to make pregnancy safer for women, will address patronage in schools, and fight and win a referendum on marriage equality.