Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has told the country ‘better days are here’ and promised Ireland will exit the EU/IMF bailout on December 15th.

Kenny made the pledge at the Fine Gael party conference which ended in Limerick on Sunday.

He claimed that government policy had brought Ireland back from the brink of economic extinction and offered hope to other countries experiencing financial hardship.

Speaking ahead of this week’s budget, Kenny declared: “I can confirm that Ireland is on track to exit the EU/IMF bailout on December 15th. And we won’t go back.

“It won’t mean that our financial troubles are over. Yes, there are still fragile times ahead. There’s still a long way to go. But at last, the era of the bailout will be no more. The economic emergency will be over.

“But the exit from the bailout is not an end in itself. In fact it’s just the beginning. The beginning of our freedom to choose the kind of Ireland we want to build.”

Irish state broadcaster RTE reports that Kenny told the conference that he readily acknowledged how tough the decisions taken by his Government since they came to power had been on ordinary people, their families and their businesses.

But he said those decisions had borne fruit with Ireland exceeding all budgetary targets.

The Fine Gael leader added: “Yes, there are too many people still out of work. Yes, there are too many people still leaving the country. But you know something, there’s a change happening: job creation is now at its highest level in five years.

“The Live-Register number has fallen every month for 15 consecutive months. That’s progress. Before we came to office, Ireland was losing 7,000 jobs a month. Now we’re creating 3,000 new jobs every month.

“That’s a wage, hope, dignity being returned to 3,000 families this month, every month.”

Applauded by the party faithful, Kenny insisted he will press ahead with plans to reform the Irish senate despite defeat in last week’s referendum vote on abolishing it.

He pledged: “The outcome is clear and we will now continue reforming the political system and ensuring that the Seanad (Senate) is as effective as possible.

“I intend to discuss this with other leaders in the coming weeks and, as a small first step, I have asked that legislation be prepared to give effect to the 1979 decision of the Irish people to extend the Seanad electorate to all graduates.”