The key to the return of market confidence has been "rigorous adherence to fiscal goals," said Ireland's Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan on Friday. "Over the three years, a continuation of the momentum of fiscal adjustments already initiated in 2008 has brought the public finances back within striking distance of EU norms," Honohan said at a European Commission economics and finance conference in Dublin. "The debt-to-GDP ratio has reached a peak and is on target to fall in the coming year," he said. The Irish bank governor said economic growth has "returned on a broad front," with employment being improved for months, and residential property prices bounced back or remained broadly stable in the past months. In addition to fiscal discipline, the governor said improved financing terms emerged in various manners in the course of the program. This represented "a major contributing factor to the improvement in debt sustainability and in market confidence, enabling the country to fund itself in the coming years," he said. However, the financial crisis will have a "lasting unfavorable legacy" on the country, the governor warned. "The accumulation of debt, public and private, will continue to weigh on growth prospects in a variety of ways. And many households are being affected by long term unemployment," he said. "But the damage can be ameliorated by a variety of means, including work on labor market activation and continued improvement of fiscal policy and measures." Limiting the legacy damage is also the rationale for the central bank's persistence in pressing the banks to accelerate their work to ensure that non-performing loans are brought back into performing status, and dealing with over-indebtedness by moving to sustainable solutions, said Honohan. "These are tasks which remain work in progress, though progress that is now accelerating," he explained. "In cushioning the impact of the loss of market confidence resulting from the crisis, the program did no more and no less than was promised on the tin. The rest is up to us," he stressed.