Taoiseach has written to EU leaders on debt
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has written to all EU leaders about the necessity for politicians to deal with debt and “possible changes” to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
He also said resolving the issue would be a “tortuous and complex process” and there were “no simple quick-fix solutions”.
During leaders’ questions, Mr Kenny also declined to reveal the details of his telephone conversation last week with German chancellor Angela Merkel, except for her congratulations to the Irish electorate for a Yes vote in the fiscal treaty.
Pressed repeatedly by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams about the conversation, Mr Kenny dismissed the notion that the issue could be sorted “in a phone call”.
He said if Mr Martin believed a “matter as complex as this will be sorted out with words over a telephone, you are certainly very far removed” from reality.
However, the Fianna Fáil leader retorted: “You made a big deal about the phone call. Your people leaked left, right and centre that you had been on to Chancellor Merkel straight away. You raised the view that we were all to expect something.”
Following reports that Germany was against reduction of Ireland’s debt, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that officials quoted in newspapers were not politicians.
Resolving the issue would require “consideration and assessment and decision by political leaders” not technocrats or just officials, despite the importance of their work.
He also said the EU banking crisis might have to be dealt with before the EU summit at the end of June.
The debt burden would be a central issue at the summit but there “may need to be serious reflection” on the issue before then.
He said he would be writing to all EU leaders immediately about “possible changes” to the ESM. The Government “will not waste any opportunity to make this case that the political leaders now need to decide on the strategy” for the future.
The Taoiseach said that as well as the German chancellor, he also spoke to the Spanish and Italian prime ministers, the presidents of France, the European Council and the European Commission and “I made it perfectly clear that Ireland sees the problem here of dealing with the bank debt and the bank crisis as one for politicians to make decisions on”.
Congratulating the Taoiseach on the victory of the Yes side, Gerry Adams reminded Mr Kenny that the Government “must fulfil its referendum commitments” on growth, jobs and “in terms of the bank burden”.
The Taoiseach commended Mr Adams for being magnanimous enough to offer comhghairdeas (congratulations) for the “clarity of the decision” the electorate made, despite the “atrocious litany of hypocrisy and downright untruths that were propagated by the No side”.
Independent TD Shane Ross warned, however: “There is a danger, not as a result of this referendum, that the big countries in Europe will continue to get preferential treatment regardless of the result of this referendum.”
He noted comments by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste that the Yes result in the fiscal treaty referendum had given them “authority in Europe”. Mr Ross also said it was not unreasonable to ask Europe to respond to Ireland’s vote for stability. “We want a bank deal on the agenda.”
Mr Kenny said there were difficulties in getting agreement on debt relief. It did not follow “automatically that because a country were to get a particular facility extended to them that it should apply across the board”.
However, he said, “there was a strong case for political justice to be seen in respect of facilities being given to one country and another”.