IRELAND’S business leaders were last night praised for making redundancy their last option when facing up to the difficulties of the current recession.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the annual dinner of Cork Chamber that he is proud of the way the country is facing up to the current crisis.
“I must sincerely congratulate the Irish business community and indeed the Cork business community who have, in the face of such adversity never looked upon redundancy as the first option but as the last option.
“I know there are many managers, many owners of businesses, many staff that have taken cuts in their wages in order to make sure that the maximum number of people, the loyal staff they have built up, can be maintained in employment at a time of depleted demand.
“That says a lot about the values of our business community, it says a lot about the values of our country at a time when many people question the basic tenets that make this nation what it is,” he added.
The Taoiseach also laid down a marker to the public sector unions that the Government will not bedeflected from its current cost-cutting programme and is determined to avoid phoney confrontations.
“We have decided upon a course of action that is about consolidation of the public finances.
“We will not be deterred from that effort, we are going to continue along that path, we believe it is a fundamental pre-requisite of recovery. We believe it is enhancing confidence at home and abroad,” he said.
He said the country is better placed to cope with this recession than the last one when there were fewer than one million people at work compared to 1.85m today, when the country faced 20% unemployment and 20% interest rates.
“We are not at that stage in this recession because we have built strengths into our economy over the last 10 years,” he said, and promised: “We will rebuild this economy in the coming years. That is what we intend to do.”
He said we have to be brave enough to know that the basic decisions which have to be taken must be taken. “Government of what ever hue needs to make those tough decisions in the interests of securing the long-term interests of this country.”
During the course of his speech Mr Cowen also praised Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin in his home constituency for brokering the deal on the devolution of policing and justice powers in Northern Ireland.
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