Noonan says Varadkar pay remarks 'his personal view'


MINISTER FOR Finance Michael Noonan has distanced himself and the Government from Leo Varadkar’s calls for public sector pay increments to be deferred, describing the comments as the Minister for Transport’s “own personal view”.

Speaking in Limerick yesterday, Mr Noonan also dismissed as speculation rumours about the upcoming budget, insisting no formal discussions on the budget have taken place at Cabinet level.

“There are various comments about the budget, but at the end of the day there has been no discussion in Cabinet yet about the budget.

“Brendan Howlin and myself meet each other every day because we work in the one building. We have had preliminary chats about it, and we have got our civil servants to do preliminary work after providing them with some guidelines.

“But all this speculation and various Ministers saying this, that, and the other thing; that’s not running from Cabinet discussions, that’s their own personal views.”

When asked specifically about Mr Varadkar’s comments, he said: “Well, people are entitled to give their views, but it’s a personal view.”

Mr Noonan was speaking in Limerick yesterday where he was honoured with a civic reception by Limerick County Council which he was elected to in 1974.

When asked about the challenges of his 38-year political career the Limerick, the TD admitted his current portfolio was challenging but “quite interesting”.

“Political careers when they last a long time are a bit like a graph you see at the bottom of the bed when you visit a relation in hospital, the graph jumps up and down quite a lot. So I’ve had a lot of success, but a lot of bad times as well. At present, it’s quite interesting.”

Mr Noonan said he was reasonably happy with how the Government had worked out Ireland’s bailout deal so far, but admitted he would like to see stronger growth in the economy.

He added that a lot would depend on how Ireland’s “customer countries” like France and Germany succeed.

“Last week, when I was in Luxembourg, I made a very strong case that Ireland won’t achieve the kind of growth rates that we would like to achieve unless our colleagues in Europe do something to stimulate their own economies and get their countries going, because our model is export-led growth. We can’t consume everything we produce.”

When asked about Ireland’s sporting profile in Europe in the wake of recent comments about alcohol consumption at Euro 2012, Mr Noonan said he received no complaints about fans.

“Nobody said a word to me, except the Polish finance minister, and he said you’ve got great fans in Ireland and we’re delighted so many of them came out to Poland.

“His view of things was they were great supporters and they all behaved themselves very well, and he was asking me to encourage more of them to go for their summer holidays. So there was no criticism of them at all,” said Mr Noonan.