Dáil told deadlines on Greek loans not granted to Ireland

Wed, Jan 23, 2013, 00:00

The Dáil last night began debating legislation to extend loan deadlines to Greece that have not yet been granted to Ireland despite “quite categoric” agreements in 2011.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said Greece had also negotiated a 10-year deferral of interest payments on loans it received under the European Financial Stability Facility. “Such a deferral would bring immediate cash benefits to Ireland were it extended to us,” he said as he questioned why the State had not yet got the promised extension on its loans.

Mr McGrath raised the issue in the wake of the agreement in principle on Monday by euro area finance ministers to extend the maturity date of Ireland’s loans.

“By no stretch of the imagination could last night’s discussions be considered a comprehensive solution or even a significant part of one. In fact all we got was a very small step in the right direction.”

Maturity dates

Mr McGrath said the EU ministers of finance had agreed in October 2011 to extend the maturity dates on loans to both Ireland and Portugal by 15 years to 30 years. He said that was “quite categoric” but more than a year later EU finance ministers were asking that the extension of maturities be examined.

“In some respects we are not making progress. We have gone from an extension being a certainty to something that requires examination.”

Last night the Dáil started to debate the Euro Area Loan Facility (Amendment) Bill, which amends existing legislation on the Greek loan facility to extend the term of the loan from 15 to 30 years and reduces the interest rate. The State is amending its legislation in the third amendment of EU-wide agreements with Greece, agreed by EU finance ministers late last year.

Examine loans

Minister of State Alex White said that along with the agreement on Monday by euro area ministers, finance ministers from all 27 EU states had agreed to examine loans from the European Financial Stability Mechanism.

“These are important and potentially significant decisions,” he said, and had the potential to enhance Ireland’s debt sustainability and prospects of making a full return to the financial markets.”

Mr McGrath stressed it was “very much in Ireland’s interests that a successful conclusion to the recent round of Greek talks was reached”.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said that based on Monday’s agreement, “there will be no saving by this State until at the earliest 2016”.