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Ireland has ‘paid the price’ for austerity: PM

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."

Read MoreIreland: Real recovery or all blarney?

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.

Louisa Gouliamaki | AFP | Getty Images

Ireland's turnaround has been impressive, with the country's central bank forecasting 2.1 percent GDP growth in 2014. Unemployment still stands at around 12 percent, but is continuing to fall.

Irish 10-year bonds have seen yields fall from highs of around 15 percent in July 2011, to around 2.65 percent today. Last week, yields on the 10-year paper dropped below that of U.K. gilts, typically viewed as a very safe investment.

Read MoreIreland's bailout exit feted by bond markets

Kenny called the bond move "extraordinary" and said it was a sign investors saw great potential in the Irish market.

"I think it's a sign of the times that we're coming from a point where objective opinion internationally was saying, 'You have no integrity, you have no credibility, you have no word, you can't be trusted,' to a point where they (bond yields) have gone from 15 percent to 2.6 percent," Kenny said.

"As you know markets anticipate, they don't react and they've made their judgement that this is an extraordinarily attractive country for investment," he added.

Read MoreWhy foreign investors are buying in to Ireland

Kenny did admit that Irish people "do not feel the joy" of the economic recovery, but said his government would enact reforms to "repay" the population.

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