Result is 'message to EU leaders' on bank debt issue

Sat, Jun 2, 2012, 01:00

TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny said he raised the “particular problem” of Ireland’s bank debt in a telephone call with German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday.

He said that by voting Yes to the fiscal treaty referendum, the Irish people, who understood the banking situation, had sent a message that the issue had to be dealt with by the political leaders of Europe.

“Without getting into technicalities of it, yes I did raise directly the issue with the chancellor,” he said.

“She and the other leaders to whom I spoke were very pleased to see that the Irish people, in a difficult situation where waves of anti-incumbent sentiment sweeps around the world, gave a very clear and a very decisive decision here,” he said.

Mr Kenny said he also discussed the matter “specifically” with French president François Hollande, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy in a series of phone calls yesterday.

“This is an issue which I regard now as Ireland having sent a message here about an issue that we understand is a particular problem, and this has got to be dealt with by the political leaders of Europe.”

He said the developing situation in Europe’s banking sector needed a “comprehensive” solution and insisted that Ireland’s banking debt had to form part of that solution. “Europe badly needs a success story as it seeks to recover; Ireland can provide that success story if the right and proper framework is put in place,” he said.

Mr Kenny acknowledged that the decision to vote Yes had not been an easy one for many people, “given all we’ve been through”. He said the Irish people were making sacrifices to contribute to economic recovery and that some of the measures the Government had to take had been painful for many.

He denied the Government had frightened people into voting Yes by saying the State would be cut off from European Stability Mechanism (ESM) funding in the event of a No vote. “The fear came from the other side, where we heard of the billions of timebombs of austerity blowing up in the people’s faces,” he said.

He suggested “local issues” had affected the decision of people in five constituencies to vote No.

Mr Kenny said the “clear and decisive” verdict of the people would help to create the stability and certainty that investors in Ireland needed. It would enable the strong flow of inward investment by multinational companies to create new jobs to continue.

The result also ensured that Ireland would be eligible for funding from the ESM, “should that ever be required in the future”. He said he wanted to thank the Irish people for the “pragmatism” they had demonstrated.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday’s referendum result would “strengthen our hand” in discussions with European institutions and other member States.

He also said there must be progress in the work to secure a more sustainable long-term deal in relation to Ireland’s bank debt. He said the deal must be “just” and in the interests of the Irish people. He insisted the Government had listened to the people throughout the campaign.

“We have listened to their strong and legitimate desire for a better deal on the burden of bank debt Ireland is carrying,” he said.

Welcoming the “decisive” Yes vote, Mr Gilmore thanked all who voted and said the Government would interpret the result as a call to redouble its efforts to work for recovery. “We will use this decision, not just to ratify the treaty, but to promote in Europe and in Ireland the policies and steps which are necessary to create jobs for those who are unemployed; to bring investment into our country and to generate growth.”

He claimed the Government was among the first member state governments to make the case for a growth strategy in Europe.