Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said the country is finished with ‘golden circles and the favoured few’, and that his party is ready to provide the energy, ideas and commitment needed to get out of the economic recession.

In his address to the Fine Gael National Conference in Killarney, Mr Kenny said bankers must never be allowed to destroy the economy again - and those who broke the law must be sent to jail if the courts decide.

Mr Kenny's speech was heavy on optimistic rhetoric, assuring people that Ireland can recover from the present economic crisis, given the right leadership.

He said his party was ready to form the most hard-working government in the history of the State, and was ready to make the changes the country needs.

Mr Kenny outlined party policy in key areas such as job creation through investment in infrastructure; a new health scheme offering universal free GP care and an end to waiting lists; and political reform with a cut in the number of TDs, a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad, and more women in politics.

He said Fine Gael would not pump billions into Anglo-Irish Bank, but would set up a National Recovery Bank instead.

Mr Kenny said bankers must never again be allowed to destroy the economy and that those who broke the law must face the consequences, and if the courts decided, they should be sent to jail.

Earlier, the conference heard a promise that Fine Gael in government would create 100,000 new jobs and would lay the foundations to make the Irish economy one of the most competitive in Europe.

Enterprise Spokesman Leo Varadkar said: 'This is a Fianna Fáil recession, caused by reckless and irresponsible Fianna Fáil politicians who ignored all warning and all opposition as they inflated away our competitiveness, squandered our surplus and allowed the banks to run amok.

'Fianna Fáil is to blame for all of that and we must never let them forget it.'

Mr Varadkar said the Cabinet did not need reshuffling, rather Ireland needs a new government with a mandate for change.

Founder of Iona Technologies Chris Horn told the conference that Ireland needs to focus on high-end services and accelerate the smart economy.

Mr Horn said Ireland does not have a monopoly on low-cost and low corporation tax and needs to win international confidence.

Fine Gael Finance Spokesman Richard Bruton said Anglo Irish Bank should be treated like any other failed enterprise and should be handed over to its creditors when the Government bank guarantee scheme expires later this year.Richard Bruton

Mr Bruton said a tougher approach needs to be taken to Anglo and its performing business loans should be transferred to another institution.

He also criticised the National Asset Management Agency and said the agency will not solve the country's economic or banking problems.

Social and Family Affairs Spokesperson Olwyn Enright said the social welfare system in its present form was unresponsive to people and their needs.

She said the party would tackle debt levels by taking debt cases out of the courts system.

Flanagan promises tougher crime legislation

Earlier, Justice Spokesman Charlie Flanagan said his party in government would introduce a minimum sentence of 25 years for those convicted of gangland killings.

Mr Flanagan also said Government apathy and negligence has led to Ireland becoming a drugs gateway for the rest of Europe.

He said: 'Fine Gael, in power, will put in place a series of measures to deal with the current gangland crisis and preventing criminals from running their operations from behind prison bars.'

Mr Flanagan also called for all senior garda vacancies to be filled immediately.

The party's spokesman on Children's Rights, Alan Shatter, called for the withholding of information on child abuse to be made a criminal offence.

Fine Gael Education Spokesman called for an orderly handover of school property from the Catholic Church to the State.

Brian Hayes said it was unsustainable for patrons of schools to own the properties.

He suggested that the State should be made responsible for school buildings and lease them out to educational providers. The church is the patron for over 90% of primary schools.

Last night's opening session heard plans for changes to the health service, including the provision of universal free GP care and an end to hospital waiting lists.