Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the European Parliament that Ireland is taking steps on the road to recovery.
Mr Kenny made his comments in Strasbourg in a speech outlining Ireland's priorities for its six month EU Presidency.
He told MEPs that Ireland has honoured all of its EU-IMF commitments and that the country is determined to exit the EU-IMF programme before the end of this year.
The Taoiseach said the people of Ireland still laboured under the weight of bank-related debt and that austerity had brought pain and suffering to many families.
However, he added that Irish people had borne that pain with remarkable courage, patience and dignity.
He described unemployment as "the deepest hurt" and spoke of the danger of a generation growing up believing their political leaders had failed to give them a reasonable chance in life.