Revised debt deal would boost Yes vote, says Burton

Sat, Mar 3, 2012, 00:00

MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton has repeated her belief that a renegotiation of Ireland’s debt burden would boost support for a Yes vote in the referendum on the fiscal treaty.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have both insisted that ongoing talks about easing the terms of the Anglo bailout are separate from the referendum, with Enda Kenny stating that “the Irish people are not going to be bribed by anyone”.

However, Ms Burton said yesterday that a re-engineering of the promissory note payments due by Ireland would be helpful “not just in the context of the referendum but also in the context of our recovery”.

The next promissory note payment, for €3.1 billion, is due at the end of this month.

Ms Burton acknowledged that the referendum was one issue and the promissory notes another, but added that it would be extremely helpful for Ireland to get a re-engineering of the debt burden because of the amounts involved.

Asked if she would like to see a new deal before polling in the referendum, she said she wanted a restructuring of Ireland’s debt “as soon as possible”. Having got a better deal on the interest rate on our loans last year, she was hopeful now our European partners would extend “additional solidarity” to Ireland.

Asked whether she agreed with the condition in the treaty that blocks countries that fail to ratify it from accessing the permanent bailout fund, or European Stability Mechanism, Ms Burton said the existence of the ESM would be very important for Ireland as a cushion or backstop when we emerged from our bailout.

Its availability to Ireland would send a very strong message to the financial markets that Ireland was part of the euro zone and could avail of the financial support facilities available. Because Ireland was already participating in a bailout, it was already complying with many of the structures set out in the treaty, she added. The Minister was speaking yesterday at an employment and advice fair organised by her department in Blanchardstown, Dublin. More than 800 jobs are available at the fair, at which employers such as HP Ireland, Symantec Ireland, Penneys, eBay and PayPal have stands.

Meanwhile, businessman Declan Ganley said he would support the treaty if Ireland got a deal on its bank debt and Europe committed itself to institutional reform. He said he wouldn’t decide which way to vote until he knew what kind of deal Ireland was going to get on its bank debt.

Describing the treaty as a placebo, he said he was sympathetic to its proposal for a budget cap. However, the treaty would not solve Europe’s core problem of insolvency in the financial system, he said. “Anybody that thinks this is a cure for Europe’s ills is delusional,” he told RTÉ radio. “If we are going to pass it, let’s make sure Ireland gets a deal which is good for us and the whole of the EU.”

Criticising the Taoiseach’s approach to renegotiating Ireland’s debt, Mr Ganley said “someone should explain to Enda Kenny the difference between negotiation, compromise and blackmail”.

As the Taoiseach yesterday signed the treaty in Brussels, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams called for its rejection. He claimed it would result in the imposition of another €6 billion in cuts and new taxes on top of €8.6 billion in cuts due over the next three years.

“Mr Kenny is allowing these institutions to impose economic policies on democratically elected governments and to impose heavy fines where they believe these policies have not been adhered to.”