Ireland's population has had to "pay the price" for years of austerity, following the country's bailout over three years ago, Irish leader Enda Kenny told CNBC.
Ireland received a 67.5 billion ($113 billion)-euro bailout from international lenders in November 2010, following the 2008 international financial crisis which dragged the country to near-bankruptcy. However, it then became the first euro zone country to exit its bailout program at the end of 2013, following intense structural reforms and austerity measures.
The country has been hailed as the "poster child" for Europe's economic recovery, but Kenny refuted the term and said the Irish people have been hurt in the process.
"I don't hold to this slogan of being poster-anything," Kenny told CNBC in a TV interview.
"We set out our plan to exit our bailout program and we're the first country in the euro zone to do that. But it came at a cost of hardship and financial difficulties and strained finances for hundreds of thousands of families in this country. Not an easy thing to do."
The comments come as Portugal, one of the worst affected euro zone countries, prepares to exit its 78 billion euro bailout on Saturday after three years of austerity measures.