Schäuble pledges German support


German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said Germany will be as supportive to Ireland as it has been in the past when asked about the possibility of securing a deal on Irish bank debt.

Mr Schäuble, speaking in Dublin this afternoon, said he was “totally confident” Ireland was on track to exit its bailout programme with “no problem at all”.

He held a 40-minute meeting with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, followed by a meeting with officials.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said it would not be a good idea for him to make a comment on the promissory note issue, which he said was a matter between the Irish Government and the European Central Bank.

Mr Schäuble caused consternation last month when he controversially suggested Ireland could not expect a retrospective bank debt deal when he said the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be used only for future bank recapitalisations.

Today he pointed to the joint statement released by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which described Ireland as a “special case”.

Mr Schäuble said he agreed “100 per cent” with the content of that statement. He said if politicians did not “stick to the same sentences” then some “innovative interpretation” of their comments could result.

“There is no misunderstanding…Of course we will be as supportive as we used to be in the past,” he said.

Mr Schäuble is proceeding to Britain, where he is due to deliver a talk at Oxford University titled “Europe – Still a Common Vision?”

Mr Noonan described the meeting as a "very good exchange of views" and said he wanted to acknowledge Ireland's close relationship with Germany and how helpful Mr Schäuble had been.

Mr Howlin also described the meeting as very useful and helpful and said the ministers had a "very clear understanding" of each other's position.