The Government has set a new target of 2018 to return full employment to Ireland, bringing it forward by two years from a previous deadline.

It has announced a series of measures including a spring economic statement, investments in transport, infrastructure and skills shortages, and a low-pay commission to ensure work "pays better than welfare".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said 40,000 new jobs would be created this year and unemployment would fall below 10% into single figures.

Announcing decisions taken at what the Government called the "Jobs Cabinet" this morning, Mr Kenny said it was crucial growth was sustained and political stability was central to this.

He said targets of fixing public finances and getting people back to work would now be seen across the country. Special effort will also be made to attract investment in rural Ireland.

Mr Kenny said initiatives would be announced to maximise the benefit of a reduction in VAT in the tourism sector and the abolition of the travel tax. 

"Job creation will be the number one priority in 2015," he said at a press conference this afternoon.

He acknowledged that while unemployment was falling, it remained "too high".

The Taoiseach said Government targets set in 2012 to create 100,000 jobs would be met and the new focus was to recover all of the 250,000 jobs lost in the recession.

He said the Cabinet had agreed to set a target date of 2018 for this to be achieved.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said companies would be incentivised to recruit young people.

She said that a major programme would be undertaken to help retrain construction workers who remain out of work.

Ms Burton said work practices such as zero-hour contracts and low pay would be tackled. She said the benefits would be felt across the country.

The overall jobs action plan will be published at the end of the month.

Fitzgerald briefs ministers on security issues

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald also briefed ministers at Cabinet on security issues in Ireland following last week's attacks in Paris.

The minister met Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on the matter yesterday.

It is understood the minister was advised that there is no specific information to suggest a threat to Ireland.

Ms Fitzgerald told ministers that gardaí are keeping the level of threat from international terrorism under continuous review in the light of ongoing developments.

She said they are continuing to take all appropriate measures to counteract this threat.

Time has also been allocated this evening for TDs to make statements on last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Meanwhile, discussions on public sector pay could begin in the second quarter of this year, according to Minister for Expenditure and reform Brendan Howlin.

Speaking on his way into this morning's meeting, Mr Howlin said the focus of the Government in 2015 is to see unemployment reduced to single digits with "continued and sustained growth".

He said based on public income growth, discussions could begin on public sector pay in the second and third quarters to see where it would develop in coming years.