Noonan hails ‘red letter day’ as Ireland passes final bailout exam
‘This is a significant day that many thought, and some feared, would never be reached’
Peter Breuer, Resident Representative of the IMF in Ireland walking from the Merrion Hotel in to the Deptartment of Finance today. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the Government will decide before the end of the bailout in mid-December whether it will seek a special credit line to guard against renewed turmoil after the rescue programme.
Mr Noonan was speaking alongside Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin this morning as the EU-IMF said Ireland had successfully executed all obligations on it under the three-year bailout, a key step in the process of leaving the programme next month.
Describing today as a “red letter day”, Mr Noonan said the Government was now in full command of the economy.
“There are difficulties of course and we never hide from the difficulties and we have to continue. Really what’s happening today is the responsibility for continuing to restore the economic fortunes of Ireland is being passed completely back now to the Irish Government,” said the Minister for Finance.
“But of course that doesn’t mean that no other action has to be taken. Of course we have to continue, except the responsibility is now with ourselves.”
While troika inspectors believe it will be open to the Government to wait until the new year to decide whether an application will be made for a credit line, Mr Noonan said that was not the plan.
“On the exit issue, we will make a decision in advance of the 15th of December. After my consultation round is completed, I will advise the Government on what I think is the best course of action. It’s still an open question.
“There are a lot of advantages to both sides of the discussion and we’re fortunate that we do have choices and we’re well position either to have a clean exit or to look for a precautionary line of credit.”
Both Mr Noonan and Mr Howlin said many observers had predicted that the exit from the bailout would never come.
“If you reflect on where things were three years ago you’ll see that enormous progress has been made in the Irish economy,” Mr Noonan said.
“If you think of all the predictions there were from very renowned people that Ireland would have to default, that it couldn’t be done, that the programme wouldn’t work, that we were going to be insolvent for a generation, well then you can go back and look at the record of the predictions that were made and compare them to the position Ireland is in now.”
Mr Howlin made light of concerns expressed in troika circles about delayed reforms in the health and legal sector, saying such issues were “peripheral” to Ireland’s core achievement in the execution of 260 policy actions.