Taoiseach 'confident' of debt deal

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has reiterated his confidence in getting a deal on promissory notes before the end of March.

Such a move was central to the Government’s plan for 2013 to exit the EU-IMF bailout programme “successfully”, he said.

“I am confident that we will secure a deal before the end of March, which is the payment date for the next €3 billion,” he said.

Mr Kenny also ruled out a Cabinet reshuffle this year. “There will be no reshuffle of the Cabinet in 2013. The position here is that every minister has an enormous work programme both with the [EU] presidency and the programme for Government,” he told RTÉ.

Asked what would happen if the Government did not get such a deal, Mr Kenny said he was “always" an optimist.

“I don’t contemplate not getting a deal here,” he told RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme. Failure would make it “very difficult" for the Government to exit the bailout programme “with a degree of clarity that we need”, he said.

Legal and financial teams led by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had been working with the European Central Bank for the past 18 months, he said.

Mr Kenny said a promissory note deal had taken “so long” because it was “very complex and highly technical”.

Ireland had “fulfilled its part of the bargain” and would look for support committed to it from abroad, he said.

The impact of getting a deal would be for “markets to say Ireland does not need as much money to run its affairs as originally thought, therefore interest rates would fall further,”, he said. It would mean banks could borrow from the markets themselves, have more flexibility and “therefore translate that into jobs”.

Much of what was contained in a leaked European Commission draft report on Ireland was “very much in line with Government thinking”, he said.

Mr Kenny also expressed confidence in Minister for Health James Reilly.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused Mr Kenny of patronising citizens over the promissory note.

“In reality it couldn’t be more straightforward - this government needs to stand up for Irish citizens and stop using public money to prop up banks and bankers," he said in a statement. “It needs to put the interests of Ireland first in any negotiations at European level.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Government may “cobble together some PR deal” but one that will “offer little in the way of real relief” but will “string the debt, which is unsustainable, out over a long period”.

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