Noonan says Ireland will reach ‘safe haven’ in two years

The Minister insists he will never appear on a show presented by Vincent Browne

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. File Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. File Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The economy will have reached safe haven within two years, the Minister for Finance has said.

Michael Noonan said the biggest risk Ireland faces is external risks and within Ireland it is the size of the debt - personal and national.

The Fine Gael TD said: “Now we are getting it down very rapidly and we will continue to do that, but I can see where this is going to be in two years’ time and we’ll have reached safe haven by then.

“And I can’t foresee anything that’s going to throw us off course in the next two years, but at the same time if you were nominating a risk, you’d have to say the size of the debt.

“If interest rates were to go back up, with that size of debt, the country would come under pressure and individuals would come under pressure.”

Mr Noonan said this was not a political statement but statistical background to the economy.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Limerick Leader, Mr Noonan said Joan Burton is “doing fine” as Tánaiste and claimed history would be very kind to Ms Burton’s predecessor Eamon Gilmore.

The Minister said: “I think this government will be seen as a very significant government. “Within the government then, the first cut of it will be Kenny and (Eamon ) Gilmore, as Taoiseach and Tánaiste. And then it will be (Brendan)Howlin and myself, as the two finance ministers.

“ I think history will be kind to what became the Economic Management Council.

“ Gilmore went then and Joan [BURTON]came in. She’s doing fine. But the crisis was over by the time she took over.”

The Minister for Finance said the Fine Gael party is working on the assumption it will be back in Government with Labour.

He is not in support of a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael coalition claiming it would leave no centre party in the opposition.

Mr Noonan said: “You’d be handing the country over to a Sinn Féin-led government, second time out. You’re teeing up a different model to what we’ve had since 1922.

“I won’t be around for that one, obviously. But you’re teeing up a left-right model and I think Sinn Féin don’t pass the economic literacy test. Their experience in Northern Ireland is helping to run a public service and social welfare economy. I don’t think they have any idea how to run a private sector economy.

“In terms of having a view of the country going forward, I would like a country where the alternative to Fine Gael-led governments are Fianna Fail-led governments. And they need to be in opposition, to build themselves.”

Mr Noonan insisted he wanted to be Minister for Finance again despite being 72.

He said he is running with the intention of being reappointed to the Department of Finance.

The Minister also criticised TV3 presenter Vincent Browne and insisted he would never appear on one of his shows.