DUBLIN (AFP) - Ireland is on track to exit its strict international bail-out programme in December, Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced on Saturday, although he warned the country still had a way to go to recover from the global economic crisis.
"Tonight I can confirm that Ireland is on track to exit the EU-IMF bail-out on December 15th. And we won't go back," the taoiseach told his Fine Gael party's national conference.
"It won't mean that our financial troubles are over. Yes, there are still fragile times ahead. There's still a long way to go.
"But at last, the era of the bailout will be no-more. The economic emergency will be over."
Mr Kenny admitted the next national budget due to be presented on Tuesday would be "tough", with another 2.5 billion euros (S$4.2 billion) in tax rises and spending cuts.
But he said it would leave Ireland with a 4.8 per cent deficit next year, and said the government would publish a new economic plan for the medium term by the end of the year.
Ireland enjoyed double-digit economic growth for a decade from the mid-1990s but was hammered by the 2008 global financial crisis.
In late 2010, Dublin received a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund worth 85 billion euros, which forced it to introduce major austerity measures.
But things are improving, with Ireland exiting recession in the second quarter with growth of 0.4 per cent thanks to solid expansion of its construction and export sectors.
"Two years ago, I addressed the Irish people and said that I wanted to be the taoiseach who would retrieve our economic sovereignty and independence," Mr Kenny said, referring to his 2011 election.
"The decisions we have taken, many of them tough - government and people working in partnership - mean that this goal is now within our grasp."