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The Government got a great kicking at the polls. Was it that bad? I was of the opinion that it was a reasonably good Government considering the obstacle race it had to run.
In 2008, the greatest fiscal and economic crash this State has ever witnessed happened, resulting in a debt of €444 billion, the second-highest debt of the then 27 EU countries next to Germany.
The Government did a lot of good things including bringing the country from almost zero growth to the fastest-growing of the EU’s 28 with 7.8% GDP growth in 2015 and providing 135,000 extra jobs. When the Government took over the running of the country in March 2011, it was haemorrhaging investment and jobs.
Regulations were revised to make it easier for foreign companies to come and do business here. Mr Bruton, Minister for Jobs, was dispatched to the US to seek jobs and investment. While he was there, Dell in Limerick announced its withdrawal from Ireland with the loss of 1,800 jobs. RTÉ whilst making that announcement in the news, turned the camera on Mr Bruton and his glum face told it all. Still, he kept on with the job in hand and persuaded a huge number of companies to come here. They wouldn’t go elsewhere in the country as Dublin suited them with its facilities and in particular its good broadband.
The population of the country has grown by nearly half a million since the 2011 Census, which has meant extra pressure on all services, as a result a large number of schools and extensions were built.
In health, 46 primary health care units were built and 50 more are at the building stage. When these buildings are equipped and staffed, pressure will be taken off the hospitals. Billions of euro are being poured into building houses and apartments which are needed so badly.
The Garda Training College was re-opened and hundreds of Garda recruits have been trained there over the last few years.
The Fine Gael/Labour Government took office in March 2011, and was handed a poison chalice. When all this austerity sank in, the people became extremely angry (and who could blame them?). So the Government became public enemy number one, even though none of the austerity was of its making.
The country was glad to get a Government in 2011 as Fine Gael/Labour was the only combination to form one since so many deputies from the outgoing Government retired. I think history will be kind to the Government and will record that it played its part in rescuing this country from the greatest fiscal disaster ever to hit this State.
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