Hogan criticises flag remarks


Suggestions that the Irish flag should fly at half mast outside EU buildings because of the country's financial deficit were "not appropriate", Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said this morning.

The Minister was responding to comments made by EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger from Germany, who said "deficit sinners" needed "unconventional" treatment to help them mend their ways.

In an interview with the German tabloid Bild, Mr Oettinger said flying the flags of such countries at half mast would "just be a symbol, but would still be a big deterrent" against reckless spending.

Mr Hogan criticised the remarks.

"We certainly don't believe that is an appropriate suggestion to be making to the Irish people at a time when they are going through the difficult pain barrier of sacrificing a lot of their disposable income in order to get us back to growth and economic and financial health that we once enjoyed," he said.

He said the Irish people were playing a major role with the Irish Government to "resolve our own affairs as quickly as possible and get back our economic sovereignty".

"I think Ireland is well able to stand up for itself," he said.

The Minister was speaking in advance of the opening of the Social Justice Ireland conference in Dublin this morning.

The conference is examining how the sharing of responsibility across all sectors of society can improve decision making in the future.