Obama and O’Leary the people’s choice to steer Ireland out of downturn

Outspoken airline boss Michael O’Leary is seen as the best home-grown hope of sorting the country’s finances.

The controversial Ryanair chief was seen as the best Irish person to run the country, by those who completed a recent nationwide poll for recruitment agency FRS.

Asked which Irish or international figure they would like to see lead us out of the recession, US President Barack Obama was the top choice, followed closely by the colourful O’Leary. Newly-elected TD George Lee was the third most popular figure. The Fine Gael member was followed by fellow financial guru Eddie Hobbs, with Bertie Ahern in fifth place.

Despite the presence of the former taoiseach in the top five, the survey results won’t make pleasant reading for the Government. Nearly two-thirds of those quizzed believed no Irish political leader was capable of fixing the economy.

Of the party bosses, Eamon Gilmore inspired most confidence (12 per cent ). Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny were neck-and-neck at around 10 per cent each.

Faith in Minister John Gormley was at rock bottom. Just two per cent believed he could bring the country out of recession.

Far from trusting our leaders to manage the economy, most blamed the Government for the state of the nation’s finances. Around a fifth of those surveyed blamed the banks. One-third put our dire economic straits down to a mix of factors - including the Government, the banks, the business sector, and peoples’ own spending behaviour.

The survey also showed that almost two-thirds of private sector workers would take a pay cut in order to secure their jobs. Such is the level of concern among the labour force that other drastic measures — including cuts in pension entitlements — would also be considered.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled would consider a cut in their working week, if it meant they could avoid the dole queue.

The countrywide poll, conducted by national agency FRS Recruitment, found that, as the recession bites, workers are getting increasingly worried about the security of their employment.

More than half (58 per cent ) of respondents admitted they currently have fears for their jobs, and pay-cuts, short-time working, and changes to pension entitlements are all up for negotiation.

With mortgage debt and other loan repayments spiralling, most respondents listed job security the number one priority. Seventy per cent of those polled said the stability of the job would be the top consideration if moving to a new post. By comparison, the importance of perks, bonuses, and benefits has dropped off sharply, with only seven per cent rating them as a priority issue.

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