No room for complacency, Kenny warns
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted the Government has no scope to ease off on its onerous fiscal plan in the wake of the Anglo Irish Bank debt deal, saying there should be no sense of complacency.
As trade unionists prepare for a series of anti-austerity marches today in Dublin and five other cities, Mr Kenny said the Coalition would keep to the plan to bring the budget deficit below EU limits by 2015.
Although the deal with the European Central Bank on Anglo gives the Government an opportunity to reduce tax rises and cutbacks by €1 billion in the next two years, Mr Kenny indicated there was no scope to ease the Government’s demands in talks on a new Croke Park deal.
“We set our path for the deficit to be below 3 per cent by 2015 and that means that Government mandated Minister Howlin to go and negotiate a new Croke Park deal with the unions,” he told reporters in Brussels.
“These discussions are at a delicate stage and obviously we’d like to see them concluded if that’s possible before the end of February. Clearly there are challenges there and I think that people understand that.”
In a separate development yesterday that will be watched closely by participants in the talks, the Labour Court recommended cuts in overtime and other payments and cuts in annual leave for Bus Éireann staff.
Many measures sought by the firm’s management to deal with its financial difficulties are similar to those sought by the Government in the current Croke Park process.
Mr Kenny said the Anglo deal would provide a psychological boost to the Irish people and added that it removed a big impediment to a smooth return to private debt markets this autumn at the end of the bailout.
Mr Kenny was speaking after a 25-hour negotiation in which EU leaders settled on a new seven-year budget for the EU, cutting the union’s budget for the first time with a package worth some €960 billion between 2014 and 2020.
He described the outcome as a good deal for Ireland.