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Implementation of An Agreed Programme for Government - Progress Report, July 2004

 

This is the second annual report of the Governments progress towards implementation of the Programme for Government.  It is the seventh successive report since Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats agreed their first programme for Government in 1997.  The purpose of this report is to state factually the position in relation to each commitment given in our Programme at the end of this, the second of the five years of our mandate from the people.

The past year has been one of achievement abroad and consolidation at home.  Irelands successful Presidency of the European Union has been the result of long and careful preparation.  On 1st May Ireland welcomed the ten applicant states into full membership of the EU. This was a historic rejoining of the European family of nations after two world wars and decades of cold war. 

Irelands Presidency successfully met the challenge of international events and achieved agreement on a new draft constitution for an enlarged European Union of twenty five states.  This constitution, while fully respecting the sovereignty of every state, will ensure that the union of all twenty five together will be effective and accountable for the future.

Achieving lasting peace in Northern Ireland continues to be a central focus for the Government.  While continuing challenges remain, these will be met with commitment and resolve.  The Government is actively working with the British Government and the partys in Northern Ireland to secure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Ireland has one of the most open, trading economies in the world.  We have successfully come through a real global economic slowdown maintaining high levels of employment and high levels of public investment. 

Our people and our labour market have been flexible and adaptable.  We have increased the minimum wage and it has not cost jobs.  We have seen continued immigration, not renewed emigration.

We have reduced corporation tax, without an erosion of the tax base.  Business confidence is up.  New jobs are being created.  Investment is increasing.  And tax revenues are healthy.

The strategic management of the economy, including practical and effective regulatory reform, working through social partnership, is the sound basis for Irelands future. 

Lower taxes have created the stronger economy that keeps more people at work and that yields more revenue for investment in public services and social inclusion. 

We have made real progress on specific issues in the Programme for Government in the last year:  LUAS, broadband, roads, insurance costs, old age pensions, capital investment in our schools and regeneration in areas such as Ballymun and responding to patients needs with the National Treatment Purchase Fund are some examples.

Our work over the past twelve months builds on what has been achieved during the previous six years.  Hundreds of thousands of people have been lifted out of poverty, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created and hundreds of millions have been invested in housing, in education, in health and in our most deprived communities.

These changes and the prospect of more progress, are the fruits of policies that are working.

Now for the future the Government renews its commitment to fulfilling its mandate and to delivering on its commitments.  While many public services are much better today than when we took responsibility for them, we know too that there are others that must continue to be improved. 

Our commitment as a Government is to continue to successfully manage our economy so as to deliver the results and the resources for sustained social and economic progress, as set out in our agreed Programme for Government.

Bertie Ahern, TD,                                   Mary Harney, TD,
Taoiseach                                                  Tánaiste