Worst of slump is over, says Kenny
Ireland is over the worst of its economic recovery, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has declared.
He told business leaders at a lunch in Washington DC the strategy to get the country back on track was working with the help of people's pragmatism, patience and sacrifice.
He said: "Sure we have significant challenges ahead, our economy remains fragile. But it's clear that the most difficult aspects of our correction are in the past."
Mr Kenny, who is in the United States as part of the annual St Patrick's Day trip, told entrepreneurs Ireland's economy had stabilised and is starting to grow after years of chronic contraction.
"In fact it is entering its third, consecutive year of growth," he said.
"Competitiveness and exports are up. Prices and costs have fallen back to 2003 levels."
The Taoiseach said the number of people at work rose during the last half of last year for the first time since 2008.
Mr Kenny also referred to last month's banking debt deal and the country's "phased and successful" return to the international money markets.
"International confidence in Ireland has been restored," he said.
"Consequently we're on a new and this time sustainable path to growth."