THE MINISTER FOR Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has described any speculation about a possible second bailout for Ireland as “profoundly unhelpful”.
Speaking on Newstalk’s Breakfast programme this morning, Howlin said the aim of the current administration had always been to meet the terms of Ireland’s bailout agreement while trying to negotiate a better deal.
He said he expected conditions to be favourable enough for Ireland to return to the markets next year, but conceded that Ireland’s position was “buffeted by external realities”.
Howlin said Ireland had seen “enormous benefits” as a result of the Croke Park deal, and added that he would continue to engage with unions.
The second annual report by the body over seeing the implementation of the Croke Park deal was published on Wednesday, and showed that savings to the taxpayer worth €920 million in its second year of operation. It reported that public sector staffing levels have been reduced by 17,300 in the first two years of the deal, and by 11,530 in the review’s second year, covering the months of April 2011 to March 2012.
The public pay bill fell by €650 million in those 12 months, with the report saying that the savings would still stand at €521 million for 2012 even if recruitment following February’s spate of retirements filled all the possible vacancies.
Today the Minister reminded small-and-medium-sized business owners that capital was earmarked for loans at the country’s two pillar banks – AIB and Bank of Ireland - and said applicants who had had requests refused had a right to appeal such decisions.