Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Paris, France, 7 February 2014
Dear Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Ministers:
|We are delighted to receive the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, as well as the Ministers for Education; Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Social Protection; and Environment, Community and Local Government.
I want to thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come to the OECD and share your invaluable insight with us today.
This is one of the largest top level delegations that have visited our premises under our Leaders Programme. It is a strong confirmation of the commitment of Ireland to the OECD and an honour for us. I want to thank Prime Minister Kenny for having chosen our Organisation to have an open conversation on Ireland’s challenges and its amazing renaissance story.
Like many of our Member States, Ireland has undoubtedly faced very serious challenges in recent years. The toll of the crisis has been heavy on the Irish economy: GDP fell by almost 6.5% in 2009 alone. In 2012, unemployment reached 15% while youth unemployment was 30.3%. All this in a context of weakened public finances and very slow growth in Ireland’s main trade partners.
These are very tough challenges, but not tough enough to bend Irish perseverance. If you know your history well, or if you are good at rugby, you know that Ireland is one of “the world’s most resilient countries”, as reads the title of a 2010 book by David J. Lynch.
In the past four years, with steady leadership, rigorous policies and remarkable efforts by the Irish people, Ireland has turned the situation around.
Ireland is the first country to successfully exit its bailout programme. Growth is slowly but gradually returning. The credit outlook has been raised by rating agencies. Borrowing costs have been trending lower. And Ireland is becoming once again an attractive destination for international investors.
In our latest Economic Outlook, we forecast GDP to grow by 1.9% this year and 2.2% in 2015. The unemployment situation is also gradually improving: as Taoiseach Kenny reported in a speech on Monday, only last year, more than 58,000 new jobs were created.
It is now crucial that Ireland maintains direction and speed. It is paramount to focus on the continued implementation of structural reforms in order to tackle unemployment, boost market confidence, and continue driving forward this positive momentum.
At the OECD we trust that Ireland will continue on this path of improvement, guided by a responsible and committed Government. And we certainly stand ready to keep helping this country to design and implement ‘Better Policies for Better Lives’.