Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has admitted his first year in office was the toughest he has ever encountered .

Speaking to political correspondents Cowen stated "For me personally, of course, it was the most difficult year that I faced in my political life that’s for sure,” he said. “In terms of the scale of the problems, the magnitude of the challenges.”

"This wasn’t about politics this year, the country’s future was at stake,” he stated .

“There were very serious issues, big decisions had to be taken by this Government in the last 12 to 15 months — big decisions. But hopefully, they’ll help us pull through.”

But he admitted it was an even tougher year for those who lost jobs and were hit by the harsh budgets his government introduced.

However, he pronounced himself satisfied with the work done “The really important thing at the end of this year is... there is a greater degree of certainty as to where we are going even if we have some road to travel yet.”

He admitted he was still learning on the job.

“Of course, one is learning, but when you come into this job you take responsibility from day one and that’s what I’m doing.”