Refusal to pay bond ruled out

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has again ruled out the Government refusing to pay the €715 million unsecured Anglo Irish Bank bond.

He told the Dáil today that he would love to stand up and say it was not necessary to pay the money.

But the Government had made a case to the European Central Bank (ECB) and it was not possible to get its consent not to pay, he said.

Replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Mr Kenny said: “I admit it has not been possible for this Government to unravel the agreement made by your government.”

Mr Kenny said the people had given the Government the largest majority in the State’s history to pursue a policy of growth and not default.

He said that €17 billion had been paid to bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank by the previous government.

Mr Martin was joined by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Independent TD Shane Ross, on behalf of the technical group, in calling for the money not to be paid.

Sinn Féin, which earlier protested outside Leinster House over the repayment, and TDs from the United Left Alliance, walked out of the Dáil in a symbolic protest against the debt deal.

Mr Martin said the Government had made pre-election promises about burning bondholders but subsequently did nothing about it. The Taoiseach, he said, had even failed to put it on the negotiating table.

He added that investors who bought bonds would have doubled their money in the past nine months on the basis of Government commitments.

“Taoiseach, you have failed to deliver, failed even to put the issue on the negotiation table,” he said.

Mr Adams said the bond payment was not part of the memorandum of understanding and asked Mr Kenny whether he would ask Mr Alan Dukes, chairman of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank, to withhold payment, the Taoiseach said he “won’t do that.”

Mr Kenny said the repayment was on foot of a commitment entered into “at the highest level by the previous government and our external partners.”

Independent TD Shane Ross asked whether the Government had sought a buyback of the bonds at a lower rate.

In response, Mr Kenny said the Government had sought without success the ECB's agreement “to repudiate the situation”.

“The ECB would not give their agreement and would not give their consent and did so in the most trenchant fashion when I spoke to Mr Trichet myself, and on numerous occasions when the Minister for Finance spoke to Mr Trichet,” Mr Kenny said.