Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned that Ireland's economic sovereignty cannot be regained if "every single spending cut and reform is resisted."
The Labour Party leader said the coalition government was faced with "hard decisions" as further spending cuts would have to be inflicted.
He told delegates at the Tom Johnson Summer School in Kilkenny that his party and Fine Gael had to rescue the Irish economy and said only "boldness, imagination and willingness" to take on difficult tasks would ensure success.
Gilmore said good public and health services and an effective education system are not drains on the economy, but enablers of it.
"The fact is, we are going to have to achieve these things in the context of smaller budgets that have to decline further," he said.
"Even if Ireland did not have to fix its public finances, the world around us is changing, and public services have to change with it.
"Let there be no doubt, as a people and as a party, we will not succeed in regaining our economic sovereignty, and in fixing what is broken in our country, if every single spending cut and every single reform is resisted," Gilmore said.
He warned that citizens, politicians and public servants would have to tackle the large budget deficit "honestly, fairly, and without special pleading."
"We do have choices to make, as a nation, about what our priorities are," added Gilmore, who is also minister for foreign affairs and trade.
"But we do not have a choice about facing up to the gap between what we spend as a country, and what we take in," he told his audience.