No debt write-off sought - Noonan


Press conferences

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he never sought a write-down of the promissory notes debt with the European Central Bank because the bank has never agreed to reduce a sovereign debt burden.

In a series of press conferences and interviews yesterday, Mr Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin described the liquidation of the former Anglo Irish Bank and the conversion of the promissory notes into long-term government bonds as a huge political success, or a “good news story” as the Minister for Finance put it.

Mr Noonan said the interest and spreads on short-term and long-term Irish government debt had already fallen since the announcement yesterday afternoon. “Already the markets are saying a very good deal . . . It will contribute to growth and jobs,” he said.

The two Ministers held a joint press conference in Government Buildings in Dublin late yesterday afternoon to elaborate on details of the agreement reached with the ECB.

Referring to the liquidation of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, Mr Howlin said the development was politically significant.

“What was demonstrably a rotten bank had such a menacing effect on us,” he said.

Justifying his decision not to seek a write-down of the €28 billion promissory note debt, Mr Noonan said that the ECB had never given a writedown to any country in Europe.

He said it had given major discounts to Greece but that was for private debt and that country was a special case. “There was no point starting off on the wrong foot with the ECB and making a demand that we knew that they would not meet,” Mr Noonan said.