Cowen: 'Let's keep the head here'

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has criticised the media for taking a negative view of the country's future, declaring it is time for "a more balanced commentary".

In an unscripted contribution to the Midlands Gateway Chamber ball in Tullamore on Friday night, Cowen drew a round of applause from the 300 guests when he said it was time to "let the positive voices start overwhelming the wave of negativity which I think people are frankly fed up of and they want to move on".

Arguing that the economic situation is "stabilising and things are on the turn," he said: "We're carrying on here as if we're waiting for Armageddon… That's not where people are at."

The taoiseach said local media are "far, far better" than media at national level, but "it's incumbent on all of us to give people a bit of encouragement, a sense of perspective and give people hope... We've had recessions before. We didn't have this prosperity before, and we have good people and good communities. Let's keep the head here," he told guests.

"I go around the country and see many very good things happening," Cowen said, adding that this has to be recognised in the media.

"One of the reasons why we have to have a more balanced narrative of commentary in our own media circles… is because we do need people to go out and spend more to maintain jobs in the retail sector," he insisted.

"The real irony at the moment is that there is a lot of confidence internationally but, unfortunately, it's not being mirrored by domestic confidence at home.

"We have to try and emphasise the positives without being in denial about the real hardships that people are experiencing as well," he said, pointing out that, of late, the IDA has seen a 50% increase in enquiries about investment in Ireland.