Best of luck to all my Fine Gael friends in the Irish election today. Five years ago, Enda Kenny took charge of a country on its knees – and the government has got Ireland back onto its feet.
As a Brit of half-Irish ancestry, this matters to me – but it also matters to the whole of the United Kingdom. Ireland is our nearest neighbour and our closest kin. Britain is Ireland’s biggest trading partner and Ireland’s biggest cultural influence. Ireland is Britain’s biggest foreign investor and – for all our chequered history – Britain’s biggest supporter.
Just like the UK in 2010, in 2011, Ireland was bankrupt. It had over 14% unemployment, a deficit of 13% of GDP, and was paying 12% interest on its debts. Now, Ireland has the fastest-growing economy in Europe, unemployment has almost halved, and the the deficit has been cut by three-quarters. That’s one hell of a record.
They did that through making tough choices about spending, keeping taxes and regulation low to keep jobs in Ireland, and making work pay so people could go out and get those jobs. And bloody hell, the alternative’s a government either led or propped up by Gerry Adams – say no more!
That choice matters. The whole world’s economy is facing serious headwinds, which particularly threatens economies dependent on exports and tourism, like Ireland’s. There’s no government better-placed to face these headwinds and keep Ireland’s recovery going than Fine Gael.
Here’s hoping Fine Gael are re-elected to #FiveMoreYears.