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Implementation of An Agreed Programme for Government - Progress Report, July 2005

 

Introduction 

This is the third annual report of the Government’s progress towards implementation of the Programme for Government.  It is the eighth successive report since Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats agreed their first programme for Government in 1997.  The purpose of this report is to give a factual update of our progress in relation to each of the commitments given in our agreed Programme.

Over eight years Ireland has changed dramatically.  With changing times and a great deal of success new challenges and new opportunities have arisen.

Ireland today has:

  • The lowest level of unemployment in the EU
  • The second lowest national debt
  • The second highest minimum wage
  • The highest investment in the EU on infrastructure
  • The fastest growth of all OECD countries in spending per capita on health 
  • The most generous tax and welfare system in the world for single income families on the average industrial wage.

These are benchmarks of fundamental change over a remarkably short period of time.  They are changes that came about not by chance but because the right choices were made.  It took partnership, it took leadership and it took the hard work of the Irish people to transform this country.  Today, Ireland is a model that our neighbours look towards for inspiration.

Creating lasting peace and justice in Northern Ireland has been the intensive focus of this Government.  This past year has seen further difficulties, but the Government has remained firm in its commitment to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. 

Despite the difficulties, life in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland has been transformed since 1998.  There has been a clear peace dividend.  Economic regeneration and social development have continued apace.  New relationships are being built and the centuries-old barriers of distrust are being broken down every day.  The Government will continue to give leadership and to strive to see the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement is realised.

Today, our increased population and our vastly increased work force need better, reformed heath care and improved infrastructure.  Amidst greater wealth our people are asking for better schools, more community facilities, and an increased strength for An Garda Siochana.  In a society where many now enjoy affluence those previously left behind, like the disability community, now rightly demand to be fully included.

Meeting these challenges are the opportunity of this generation.  Uniquely, since Ireland gained its independence, it is this generation that can meet our needs and reach our full potential here at home in Ireland.

While we can be proud of this remarkable progress, our economy continues to require steady management and the kind of leadership that understands and addresses the complex issues at stake.

Continued, reforming change for our country is within our grasp with the right policies and decisions.  It will require experienced management and proper planning.  It will take continued partnership and it will require real and ongoing political leadership.

The progress we have made in the peace process, the economy and in building better infrastructure and public services has not been not a story of instant success.  It’s been a story of step-by-step progress achieved by years of sustained and incremental work.

This Programme for Government is a five-year plan of how, step-by-step, we can together make real and significant progress for the future.  This annual report is a benchmark of what we have done so far and also of the needs that remain to be met.  It is an opportunity to focus on future goals. By looking back at how far we have come, we remind ourselves of how much is possible for the future. 

Bertie Ahern, TD                                                    Mary Harney, TD
Taoiseach                                                               Tánaiste