Taoiseach supports Hollande growth plan


THE TAOISEACH has said he supports the “growth agenda” of French president-elect François Hollande.

Enda Kenny said he congratulated François Hollande on his election and “noted his comments on growth, balanced budgets, the need for an ESM and also the need for a more concentrated focus on a growth agenda for Europe, which is in everybody’s interest”.

He said he welcomed Mr Hollande’s statement from the point of view that Ireland and other countries have been talking about this agenda for some months. The Taoiseach said he expected to speak to Mr Hollande this week.

Mr Kenny added that he had spoken to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy on Sunday and urged him to hold a summit meeting on a growth agenda.

On May 23rd, after the French president was sworn in, the meeting would be held with the heads of government looking at the areas for growth and investment. Mr Kenny said he assumed there would be specific proposals at the June meeting.

“This is clearly in Ireland’s interest,” he added. “In saying that we support a growth agenda, we do so in principle, but there are issues that are clearly not in Ireland’s interests, including changes to corporation tax rates.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that before the referendum date was set, he had stated that he would not favour it being held in the immediate aftermath of the French presidential election because it had the potential to cause uncertainty.

“This has happened to a certain degree and needs to be addressed,” he said.

Mr Martin said it was fair to say that Mr Hollande favoured balanced budgets and rules but also wanted to see a growth agenda. He added that there should be some specifics on the growth agenda.

“It is all well to talk about it but we need specific proposals on it and Ireland should be tabling some measures because an opportunity exists now, particularly in terms of something over and above the fiscal treaty,” added Mr Martin. “We have consistently argued that the fiscal treaty is an essential step for Ireland’s recovery but that it needs much more, particularly from the European Central Bank, and other measures.”

Mr Martin said that the Greek elections, if anything, were more serious in terms of their potential implications for the euro currency.

Greece would need a major tranche of funding shortly, he added, and the implications of a potential default would be widespread for the euro zone.

“As a Government and a country, we must keep a watchful eye on that,” he added.

Mr Kenny said the Greek situation showed what happened when there was a complete failure of confidence for investment in an economy like Greece.

He had noted, he said, a speech by the German minister for finance Wolfgang Schäuble where he talked about increasing rates of pay for German workers – an indication of a country in surplus that wanted to spend and, therefore, stimulate the country while other states were dealing with deficits.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he wanted to also congratulate Mr Hollande.

“The message is not who was elected, but that citizens spoke and in France and Greece and in local elections in Italy, Germany and Britain they rejected austerity.”