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Dublin: 23 °C Wednesday 23 July, 2014

Failure on debt deal would have ‘catastrophic effect on Ireland’ – Tánaiste

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will address world leaders – including Angela Merkel – in Chile today as hopes for a deal on Ireland’s bank debt took a blow last night and the opposition criticised the government’s lack of openness.

Image: Barry Cronin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE will issue a strongly-worded call for a deal on Ireland’s bank debt when he addresses world leaders at an EU-Latin America summit in Chile later today.

It comes in the wake of the European Central Bank reportedly ruling out the prospect of Ireland issuing a long-term government bond in place of the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note which will cost Ireland €3.1 billion a year every year for the next ten years.

Reuters cited ECB sources yesterday in reporting that the governing council of the bank had found that a replacement deal would be in breach of European Union treaties, a state of affairs that would be a significant blow to the Irish government.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin last night expressed concern over the report with the former calling for the government to make an immediate statement on the matter.

The government maintains that no decision has been taken and Gilmore will today say that there is an urgent need for an ‘appropriate deal’ with the ECB on Ireland’s bank debt while at the summit in Santiago, Chile.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy are all at the summit which the Tánaiste will address this morning.

The Tánaiste will tell EU leaders that “failure to conclude negotiations on the promissory note would have a potentially catastrophic effect on Ireland”, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued overnight.

‘Unacceptable’

Yesterday Gilmore met with Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen to hold bilateral talks where a debt deal was pushed for. Finland has previously expressed reluctance towards the idea that the eurozone’s permanent bailout fund retrospectively recapitalises banks.

Gilmore will also hold bilateral talks with the French and Austrian prime ministers later today having already had private meetings with the presidents of Chile and Colombia to discuss the improvement of trade links.

Last night, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the Reuters report was a “massive blow for taxpayers” and said that the government needed to be more open about discussions.

“It is totally unacceptable that the Irish people have to hear about these negotiations from news sources. After all it us the taxpayer who is being asked to foot the bill,” he said. “It is time for an end to dealing behind closed doors and spinning these critical talks in a dishonest way.”

His Fianna Fáil counterpart Michael McGrath said the government needed to make a statement on the matter and also called for more openness on what was being sought in negotiations.

The Cork TD said: “The Taoiseach and his Ministers need to put aside their current strategy and be open with the Irish people about what is going on. They must explain what they are asking for and what they will do if we do not get it.”

Report: ECB rules out long-term bond to replace promissory note

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