Government 'remains hopeful' of Anglo cash concession


MINISTER OF State for Europe Lucinda Creighton said the Government remained hopeful of a concession this week to avert a €3.06 billion cash payment to the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Talks are ongoing with the European Central Bank to discharge the debt due on Saturday with a long-term Government bond.

Ms Creighton said this question was separate in the eyes of the Coalition from today’s decision on the timing of the fiscal treaty referendum.

“I think it’s well-flagged. It’s likely to be towards the end of May,” she said of the vote.

At the same time, she insisted that the question of the promissory note repayment in respect of Anglo was a stand-alone issue.

The ECB governing council has asked the Government to refine its proposal. It is unclear whether Dublin has submitted an updated plan, but Ms Creighton said a deal was possible at any point this week.

The talks come in anticipation of a wider deal at a later stage to restructure the debts of Anglo and Irish Nationwide Building Society, which are held by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

Asked if a breakthrough in the coming days would help the Government’s referendum campaign, Ms Creighton said she had no comment on the impact of any announcement vis-à-vis the referendum.

“They are two distinct issues and they are not linked in the mind of the Government nor will they be,” she said.

“But I was just talking to Michael Noonan this morning and he is quite happy that discussions have progressed over the weekend.”

Mr Noonan attends an informal meeting with his European counterparts in Copenhagen next Friday and Saturday. “We’re very optimistic that the discussions are going in the right direction and I think that’s very important for Irish people and for the Irish recovery effort but it’s a stand-alone issue,” she said.

For the Government, the referendum was more about the Irish economy than anything else.

“It’s about sending out a positive signal of confidence and stability, the sooner that we can ratify this treaty the sooner we can send that message to the international markets and that’s very important to us,” the Minister of State said.

She said it was a fact that any failure to ratify the treaty would deny Ireland access to any aid from the European Stability Mechanism permanent rescue fund.

This was a “very important” safety net, even though Ireland did not intend to use the fund. However, the Government was likely to accentuate positive messages in its campaign.