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Irish PM: The ship has been turned

updated 2:30 PM EST, Fri January 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ireland's PM says his country is reversing its fortunes
  • Ireland could be the first troubled eurozone economy to emerge successfully from its woes
  • He denied sending conflicting messages over the cause of the crisis

(CNN) -- Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny says his country has begun to reverse its economic fortunes, and could act as an example to others embroiled in the eurozone crisis.

Speaking to CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum, the Irish leader said senior business figures he had spoken to at Davos had been acknowledging Ireland's early steps on "a very long journey" toward recovery.

"I've met here face to face with chief executives of multinational corporations -- some of whom have been in Ireland for a long time, some of whom are making decisions as to whether they should come or not -- and they know that the ship has been turned around," he said. "People from all over the world recognize that the situation in Ireland is turning around."

He said Ireland could serve as an example to other troubled eurozone economies. "European leaders want some success out of this crisis," he said. "Ireland can be the first country to emerge from a program, retrieve its economic independence, and play our full part within the eurozone and the European Union."

Leaders of struggling economies needed to be honest with the public about the sacrifices required during austerity. "You have to tell the people the truth," he said. "When you meet the conditions of your memorandum of understanding, point your country in the right direction and have your ambition and your intention of emerging from the bailout program as quickly as possible, others can follow that."

Kenny defended himself against accusations he was sending mixed messages at home and abroad about the root of Ireland's financial woes, following his comments at a Davos panel discussion yesterday that Irish people had gone "mad" with their borrowing.

"When I was at home, I made it perfectly clear during my state of the nation address to the people that it was not the people's fault," he said. "We had very poor regulation, we had incompetent government, we had a system in the banking regime that paid big bonuses on volume lending which ... brought our country over the edge."

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