Leo Varadkar says Greece faces ‘major humanitarian crisis’

Health minister says Ireland’s growing economy means situation ‘very different’

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has contrasted ‘very different’ economic situations of Ireland and Greece. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has contrasted ‘very different’ economic situations of Ireland and Greece. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

 

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has contrasted ‘very different’ economic situations of Ireland and Greece and said the Greeks are facing a “major humanitarian crisis”.

His comments come as Ashoka Mody, former mission chief for Ireland at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told Newstalk that Ireland had missed an opportunity to strike a better deal with the European authorities in 2011.

“Ireland and Greece are in a very different situation. They’re still in a programme. We’re out of a programme. Our economy is growing. There’s more people at work,” Mr Varadkar said.

“In contrast they’ve a major humanitarian crisis in their country with 25 per cent unemployment, 25 per cent of people at risk of hunger. So it’s very different situation.”

Mr Varadkar said he had not heard Mr Mody’s comments when he spoke to journalists at Leinster House on Monday afternoon, but said the Irish and Greek Governments had adopted different strategies.

“Our strategy of course is a different one. A lot of money was put into the banks under the previous Government, went into dead banks, that’s not recoverable although it has been restructured,” Mr Varadkar said.

“The money that this Government put into banks, we put into live banks. That is all recoverable. We’ve already recovered all of the money we’ve put into Bank of Ireland and we anticipate being able to recover all of the money we’ve put into AIB as well.

“There are different ways of achieving that. One is retrospective recapitalisation from the European bodies. An alternative one is to start selling down stakes in those very valuable banks.”