Gilmore calls deal 'national sell out'

 

The bailout deal negotiated by the Government amounts to a "national sell out" that will leave the country crippled with debt, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore claimed tonight.

Mr Gilmore said the potential 5.8 per cent rate of interest to be paid on the IMF/EU loans did not represent a fair bargain.

“The Fianna Fáil government has shown no backbone, no negotiating ability and no authority,” he said.

“The EU and the IMF have had a walk-over in negotiations with a broken and demoralised government, that is serving out its notice and which has neither the political mandate or the moral authority to conclude such a deal.

“The problems we have been experiencing are the fault of the Irish Government, not of the Irish people. Ireland has obligations as a member of the eurozone to fix the problem, but European solidarity is a two-way street and this government has failed to secure a fair bargain for Ireland.”

He added: “This a sad and sorry day for our country and the direct result of Fianna Fáil mismanagement and irresponsibility.”

Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan said the deal was “a hugely disappointing result for the country” and he said it was hard to imagine how it could have been much worse.

“The Government was cleaned out in the negotiations and has not acted in the best interests of Ireland. At the very least we could have expected a low rate of interest on the loans, EU agreement on a jobs and growth package, and agreement to share the cost of rescuing the banks with the bond holders. The Government came away with none of these,” said Mr Noonan.

He accused Fianna Fáil of sacrificing taxpayers’ interests in order to bail out the banks. “The interest rate of 5.8% is far too high and verges on the unaffordable,” he added.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the Government had struck a terrible deal. “The 5.8 per cent interest rate is unaffordable,” he said.

“The decision to force the state to take €17.5 billion out of the Pensions Reserve Fund to pour into the black hole that is our banking system is a disaster.”

The west Belfast MP, who is to stand in Louth at the next general election, added: “The costs of this deal to ordinary people will be deep and will result in hugely damaging cuts to public services, social welfare and wages.”

But the Irish Business and Employers Confederation welcomed the announcement.

Ibec director general Danny McCoy said: “The agreement provides much-needed certainty around Ireland’s public finances and the path to recovery.

“The confirmation that Ireland’s corporate tax rate will remain unchanged is particularly important and will ensure that the country remains an attractive location for business.

“The structure of the loans means there is a strong incentives for Ireland to return to the bond markets as quickly as possible. This can only be done by demonstrating to international markets our capacity to deliver strong economic growth. This must now be the priority. It is vital that the necessary condition are put in place to ensure that business can get on with what it does best, driving growth and creating jobs.”

Trade union Siptu had a very different interpretation.

“It is now clear why the National Recovery Plan unveiled last week provided for no investment in the economy from the National Pension Reserve Fund,” Siptu president Jack O’Connor said.

“The fund was earmarked to be poured into the black hole that the Irish banking system has become.

“The position now is that the National Recovery Plan must fly on a wing and a prayer with no provision for investment, nothing for job creation, and no mechanism to generate growth.

“Meanwhile, the senior bank bond holders are to be protected while the lowest paid and those most vulnerable people dependant on public provision are to be crucified.

“The agreement is a shameful indictment of the right-wing policies which have informed the Government’s approach for the last 13 years and which now dominate thinking in the European Union institutions as well.

“The plan unveiled today should have been announced in Lourdes because, short of a miracle, it is doomed to failure.”

Additional reporting by PA