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Willie Walsh, chief executive of the International Airlines Group

Radical reform needed in economy says business chief

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Willie Walsh, chief executive of the International Airlines Group

International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh has said that Ireland needs radical reform and more criticism before it can recover from the current recession, reports the Guardian.

"Ireland is going to have to go through painful change and they are going to have to stick to it, the risk is they see some positive signs and start easing off and there's no better example of getting it wrong than at Aer Lingus," said Walsh at the London Irish Business Society in London on Thursday night.

Now the head of IAG, which owns both British Airways and Iberia, the former Aer Lingus boss shared his management vision in his hour-long speech to an audience of Irish lawyers and bankers.

He said that the worst thing the government could do was take a breather.

"Aer Lingus, they achieved a lot of things, but they would see signs of blue sky and everyone would relax, and that's the biggest mistake you can make."

He said he believed Enda Kenny and the coalition government were making significant progress but needed to stick with it.

"I hope they stand firm because Ireland, unfortunately, needs to radically change," said Walsh.

He also said that praise for  Ireland is "unfortunate" and that the country needs more criticism.

"I'm a passionate Irish man, I'm very proud to be Irish and I'm very sad to see what's going on in Ireland," he said.

"My experience travelling around the world is that there's very little criticism of Ireland. There's a lot of praise - in a strange way, for what Ireland is doing in facing up to the reality to the situation - which is probably unfortunate because I think there should be a lot of criticism for what we've done, there is no question we wasted an awful lot of opportunities.

"Previous governments and politicians should be challenged about their leadership during better times."

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