TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has stated it is his expectation that negotiations between the Irish government and the European Central Bank, on possible methods to restructure Ireland’s promissory note debts, will be concluded before the next repayment is due.
The €30.6 billion note – which, when including interest, will cost about €48 billion over its lifetime – is currently due to be repaid in instalments of €3.06 billion at the end of every March, with the next repayment due ten weeks from today.
Last year’s repayment was made by issuing a long-term government bond – something which Gilmore this afternoon said would probably not be pursued this year, as the government made clear its attempt to secure a more long-term arrangement.
“We are committed to getting a comprehensive resolution of it,” Gilmore told RTÉ’s This Week. “I hope and expected that we will have [negotiations] concluded by the 31st of March.
We want to get an overall comprehensive resolution on the promissory note problem. We want to do that in a comprehensive way so that as a country, we know where we stand […] and those who are contemplating lending to us [...] know where we stand on this issue also.
The Tánaiste added: “It is something that is very much a priority for the government, and very much an immediate priority.”
Gilmore said Ireland had secured political agreement on its hopes for a deal from the leaders of other countries, and said he expected this to be underlined in upcoming events at EU level and at a summit of European and Latin American countries.
“I expect again that that political support will be confirmed and that we will be able to conclude our negotiations with the ECB before the 31st of March,” he said.
Gilmore would not be drawn, however, on whether any possible deal would involve lowering Ireland’s overall bill, or simply whether the payments would be extended over a longer period to reduce the taxpayer’s annual liability.
The Tánaiste’s comments came after Enda Kenny said he foresaw the deal as being restructured “from a serious overdraft to a long-term, low-interest mortgage”.