EU role 'could affect debt deal'
Ireland’s upcoming presidency of the EU could make it more difficult for the State to secure a debt deal, Labour MEP Emer Costello has warned.
The Dublin MEP said it was clearly in Ireland’s interest that a deal was struck as quickly as possible but said the State would have to behave in a “neutral” manner come January.
Speaking to Irish journalists in Brussels today, Ms Costello said: “Certainly as the holders of the presidency and chairing the various different meetings in a neutral capacity it does make it more difficult because the tradition is that the country of the presidency would not act in a self-interested way."
Independent MEP Marian Harkin said the Irish presidency would give Ireland more influence. She described the “expectation level” for the Irish presidency as “phenomenal”.
Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly suggested Taoiseach Enda Kenny was too busy to meet other European leaders in response to a claim from Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley that Mr Kenny was not utilising the level of access available to him.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has repeatedly accused Mr Kenny of failing to seek meetings with his European counterparts in order to build alliances in Ireland’s interest.
Mr Crowley said: “When you’re the leader of the country you’ve access to everybody, and I don’t know whether that access is being used properly.”
However, Mr Kelly said Mr Kenny was doing a tremendous job. “A Taoiseach is going 24 hours a day basically, and he cannot be having one-to-one meetings with every prime minister because they’re all as busy as can be as well,” he said.
Separately, the three Labour MEPs said the State should legislate for the X case once the expert group on abortion reports to the Government.
Ms Costello said she believed the expert group would recommend legislation. It was incumbent on the Government to deal with the issue, which had been “kicked to touch” by previous administrations.
“It is Labour Party policy, and it has been for quite some time that we would legislate for the X case. . . . The expert group is due to report and my understanding is that there is a commitment that there will be legislation forthcoming,” she said.
Nessa Childers predicted the matter would prove a “serious issue” for the Labour Party. “I think this is quite a serious issue for the Labour Party and I think there would be an expectation that there would be legislation,” Ms Childers said.
Phil Prendergast said the Minister for Health James Reilly had said he would deal with the case. Ms Prendergast also said she stood over her controversial remarks about Dr Reilly in relation to the siting of two primary care centres. Earlier this month she called on Dr Reilly to "consider his position".