Today's Government decision to introduce legislation and regulation in response to the European Human Rights Court Ruling, in the Ireland Vs ABC case, is a vindication of the Labour Party's policy over the past 20 years. In the run-up to last year's election, we promised that in Government, we would legislate and bring legal clarity to this issue - today we achieved this.
Earlier the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore spoke to reporters about today's decision and you can listen to what he said in the Audioboo below.
Today, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn launched Momentum - a new €20 million initiative which will provide training and education places for up to 6,500 long-term jobseekers.
In tune with Labour's plan to get Ireland working, Momentum will help jobseekers gain in-demand skills and access to work in sectors of the economy where there are job opportunities, such as areas like ICT, digital media, food processing, and sales and marketing.
Stability, jobs and growth will be the policy priorities for Ireland's 2013 EU Presidency, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said. He added that the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU will be about securing stability and ensuring that it leads to jobs and growth. The Irish Presidency will also focus on youth unemployment which stands at more than 25 per cent in 13 EU member states.
Minister Brendan Howlin told the Dáil last night 'the Irish people know that we need to get out of this programme' and they realised that 'failure to do so will not only delay restoring our economic sovereignty but will see further financial correction imposed upon us from outside with little or no freedom for the Irish Government to act'. He was speaking in the House on the Private Members' motion.
He also said: "This is a national Government committed to restoring this county's fortunes.
"Two parties, of different ideological perspectives, have come together to pursue a single shared aim. Deputies on this side of the House that support this Government do so not because it is easy, it is not.
Protecting the less well-off has been prioritised by the Government in Budget 13. Core social welfare packages have been protected despite the gap in our public finances of €13.5bn and the need to make savings in Social Protection to the order of €390m.
Budget 2013 saw current spending being largely maintained at 2012 levels with Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
There has been an increase in funding for the roll out of fast broadband to secondary schools by €1m (to €3m) as 200 more schools are provided with 100Mbps broadband bringing the total number of schools connected to 500 (the remaining 250 schools will be connected in 2014).
Ruairi Quinn - fulfilling Labour's promise to transform Irish education.
Protecting education is a priority for the Government and many of the measures in Budget 2013 will protect the most vulnerable in our education system.
Class sizes have been protected for the 2013/14 and class sizes will be also be protected for free second-level schools. SNA numbers and resource teachers will be protected and there are no changes to the overall staffing or funding for DEIS schemes.
The subvention to fee-paying schools will be reduced through the change in class-size ratio from 21:1 to 23:1 from next September. This means that those who have most will pay most.
Today addressing the Dáil the Tánaiste said the Budget is a bridge to the future. He added the Government's mission is to fix the economy so that it works for the people. You can read what he said below or watch the speech in the accompanying video.
"This is a difficult budget, and it is a hard budget. It is a budget that will hit many people's pockets. But it is also a necessary budget, an honest budget, and a fair budget.
This budget is not an end in itself. It is step that, as a country, we need to take on the road to recovery. It is a bridge to the future
For weeks now, all we have heard from the opposition is fairytale economics.