Students Need to Carefully Consider the Promises Being Put Forward by Other Parties

Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael, discusses education as a key driver of economic recovery, and how Fine Gael's jobs plan should matter to students.

Enda KennyOp-ed contributor

Tomorrow our people go to the polls. They do so with Ireland’s future in their hands. They must decide whether they want Ireland to go forward or go back.

Fine Gael has a clear, costed, long-term economic plan to keep the recovery going. For the next five years, we want to make sure that everyone, young and old, feel the benefits of it in their lives.

Our plan is based on a simple proposition: a strong economy.


Every day we hear our political opponents talk about what they would do. In this election we are the only party that can talk about what we have done. We haven’t done everything we set out to do, but we always said it would take two terms to get things firmly back on track. However, we have achieved the three main objectives we started out with five years ago: fixing the public finances, rescuing the economy, and starting to get our people back to work.

Now we’re asking people for the chance to finish the job.

Education is a key driver in our economic recovery, and the next government needs to invest in it to ensure its sustainability and to ensure that every student gets the best opportunity and quality of education. Fine Gael is committed to addressing the funding gap for the higher education sector. While we await the outcome of the higher education funding working group’s report, Fine Gael knows the sector needs further investment. Just to stand still, the sector needs €100 million to meet the increased number of students who will enter college in the next five years. Fine Gael is committed to providing this out of exchequer resources. In addition we are committed to providing €150 million in capital funding for facilities including €40 million for the Grangegorman DIT project.

Fine Gael is committed to addressing the funding gap for the higher education sector

Importantly for the sector is the issue of greater freedom and flexibility to manage their own teaching and educational needs. If elected to government, Fine Gael will, within six months, publish a revised Universities Bill that will free universities from government on the management of staffing needs so they can attract the best lecturers, adapt work practices to local staff and student needs. In return, universities need to show a commitment to cost efficiencies, pay transparency and performance accountability – all with the best interests of students at its heart.

For students considering the next five years they need to consider carefully the promises being put forward by other parties. Fine Gael has the track record and the team to keep the recovery going. Fine Gael wants every student to graduate and get a good job at home in Ireland. Fine Gael are the only party with a jobs plan – an essential element for any progress, any future.

Our long term economic plan has three steps: creating 200,000 more and better jobs by 2020, making work pay more than welfare, and investing in public services. Fine Gael has learned from the mistakes made by previous governments, the same mistakes which drove our young people onto planes to London and Brisbane and Toronto.

Fine Gael are the only party with a jobs plan – an essential element for any progress, any future

We know that a strong economy – which is built carefully on solid foundations of exports of goods and services, which supports people in work – is the only economy that can create the jobs we need in Ireland. This will enable us to provide high-quality services for all our people – creating the just society we all want, and which the Irish people deserve. We all want to live in a place where we can feel secure, have confidence and prosper. A place where there is with compassion, dignity and respect at its heart.

Because that’s our plan, there can be no going back.

Political stability is essential for continued progress and job creation and there can be no going back to the people who wrecked our economy in the first place. There can be no going back with the people who want to kill jobs, punish prosperity and put new taxes on work. Given the chance, they will do it again.

Our plan will protect and reinforce Ireland’s position as the right place for companies to bring investment, as the right place to start a business, as the right place to raise a family, the right place to plan a future. Because this is what the recovery was always about.

Our country is getting back on track, thanks to the Irish people, after Fianna Fáil destroyed it. We know that the recovery is not being felt by everyone. It is fragile and cannot be taken for granted. Now is not the time to take risks with it. So the question for people on Friday is who do people trust to form a stable government? Who do people believe has the track record and the plan to form a stable Government and bring the recovery into every home in the country?

I believe the answer is Fine Gael and that’s what I’m fighting for.

Enda Kenny is the Taoiseach and the leader of Fine Gael. He is also a TD.

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.