Barrett says fiscal treaty may result in eurobonds issue


RATIFICATION OF the European fiscal treaty could open the door to jointly-issued eurobonds, which would be of “tremendous advantage” to Ireland, Ceann Chomhairle Seán Barrett has said.

Speaking in Paris during a visit by an Oireachtas delegation to the French parliament, Mr Barrett said there was considerable interest in whether Irish voters would support the fiscal pact if a referendum were held.

Despite the first-time rejections of both Nice and Lisbon treaties in Ireland, the delegation told their French counterparts that a referendum could be carried.

“This is different. We are in a situation we were never in before, that we don’t like being in,” Mr Barrett said.

“As an Irishman, I’m a bit embarrassed that we had to go cap-in-hand to borrow money to bail ourselves out, that we don’t have enough money to pay our bills.

“What is in the treaty is necessary, because you can’t continue on with a single currency unless you have discipline in the finances of member states and there’s a common approach.

“If you get that sort of discipline, you’re into a whole new area which will be advantageous to the euro states — and that is maybe eurobonds, where we would be able to borrow at a very competitive rate. That’s a tremendous advantage to Ireland.” The problem with a referendum, he said, was that “very often we end up discussing things that are not in the treaty.”

The Oireachtas delegation, comprising Mr Barrett, Olivia Mitchell and David Stanton of Fine Gael, Labour’s Jack Wall and Barry Cowen of Fianna Fáil, are on a week-long visit to Paris and Bordeaux.

Following meetings with senior French politicians, including the presidents of the French senate and national assembly, Mr Barrett said there was a strong feeling of goodwill towards Ireland in Paris.

“For us, the feedback going away from here would be very positive — a lot of respect for Ireland and what is being done.

“[There is] a great understanding of the sacrifices being made by the ordinary person in the street,” he said.

The delegation said it was difficult to explain to the Irish public why their money was being used to repay bank bondholders, and that this was a “big issue” in Ireland.

“We explained that, whether we like it or we don’t like it, the government of the day effectively transferred those debts into sovereign debt, and as a result of that we are going to pay it. To explain that to the public is very difficult,” Mr Barrett said.

The Ceann Chomhairle said he was in favour of involving the Oireachtas more closely in EU decision-making by allocating time for more regular discussion of European issues.