By Rebecca Black, PA
Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has defended his record in government as he prepares to return as Taoiseach next month.
He will take over from Taoiseach Micheál Martin under the terms of the agreement that saw Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens come together to form a government after the last general election in January 2020.
Mr Varadkar said he has learned after 12 years in government that you do not know what is going to hit you, referring to the war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and a global financial crisis.
He made the comments to media in Athlone on Friday evening ahead of his party’s Ard Fheis on Saturday.
“I think what you want to have in any country is a tried and tested party in government that is able to deal with crises, that understands that you have to build up the resilience to deal with whatever challenge comes your way, a party you can trust in difficult times and a party that can give you the security in difficult times to know that your job, your business, your livelihood will be protected at all costs,” he said.
“I wouldn’t deny the enormous challenges we face when it comes to housing, health and justice, but I think we should also acknowledge the enormous progress that has been made in the past 10 years.
“When we took over in government 11-12 years ago we had mass unemployment, we had people forced to emigrate just to find employment, we weren’t in control of our own public finances.
“Look how different that is now, full employment, a job for everyone who wants one, rising incomes, lower income tax, huge economic opportunities that wouldn’t have existed in the past.
“We can stand over our record in government.”