Noonan seeks clarity on Spain
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he was seeking clarity from Spain over the next phase of its bailout, an initiative which will have a crucial bearing on his own campaign for debt relief.
As the October "deadline" for a deal on Ireland's banking debt recedes, Mr Noonan said his claim for a review of the rescue scheme was contingent on events elsewhere.
Arriving for day-long talks in Nicosia with his euro zone counterparts, he declined to say when a agreement might be reached but insisted other governments remain committed to rework Ireland's bank bailout.
The direct recapitalisation of the surviving Irish banks by the ESM fund depends on the arrangements made for Spain, which is reluctant to seek a full sovereign bailout from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
Madrid secured an EU deal for its banks during the summer but it is now under pressure from the European authorities to seek more rescue aid.
EU leaders agreed in June allow the ESM to rescue Spanish banks and pledged to provide equal treatment to Ireland.
However, Spain wanted the European Central Bank to buy sovereign bonds before any it made any application for more aid. While the ECB moved last Thursday week, Spain is still resisting.
Asked what he wanted to hear from the Spanish government at the Nicosia talks, Mr Noonan said he was seeking clarity. "I'd like them to set out their position because it hasn't been clear over the summer what their position is," he told reporters.
He said many aspects of Ireland claim for bank relief were contingent on progress elsewhere, and "especially in Spain".
The euro zone ministers resolved two months to push for a deal for Ireland in October but the latest indications suggest a breakthrough is not imminent.
While the proposed restructuring of the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note requires the agreement of the European Central Bank, this is not yet forthcoming.
The minister argued, however, that he was still making headway. "I've spoken to the French, German and Italian colleagues and they have an understanding of the position," he told reporters.
"Of course in the first instance the troika must finalise their work and it's after that we'll be actively recruiting political support behind whatever the outcome there is."
He added: "We have technical talks and in parallel now we have political lobbying so the two are going hand in hand. I'm not prepared to put a timeframe on it because it's not an independent exercise by Ireland."
Mr Noonan said all his colleagues shared the commitment to agreement in June to review Ireland's bank debt.
"It's the working out the ways and means of implementation that are in question now and it's too soon to put a timeframe on it," he said.
"Certainly any arrangement which would have the direct recapitalisation of Spanish banks and applying that formula to Ireland is contingent on progress being made on Spain."