Taoiseach's efforts on bank debt deal criticised


THE GOVERNMENT has come in for sharp criticism from Opposition parties who claim that Taoiseach Enda Kenny played an ineffectual role in relation to securing a deal on the Republic’s bank debt.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said his party was “extremely concerned” by German chancellor Angela Merkel’s comment appearing to rule out aid for bank debts incurred in the past.

“It’s bad news for the country,” he said and called on the Government to be honest about what is on the table and to be specific about what is being sought in negotiations.

The Taoiseach, he added, “didn’t even have one phone call” with Dr Merkel since the previous EU summit in June.

“You have to at least maintain dialogue,” said Mr Martin.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the Government had “blown a lot of hot air about positivity when there is no progress at all”. Chancellor Merkel had given the clearest indication yet, he said, that this Government negotiating team has failed miserably to make any progress at all in the separation of banking from sovereign debt.

“We see photos of Enda Kenny and Angela Merkel exchanging kisses. But it seems it was a Judas kiss she gave him,” he added.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the Merkel comment was, on the face of it, a massive setback to achieving a deal on Irish bank debt.

Mr McGrath said the Taoiseach should contact the German leader and travel to meet her if necessary to clarify what she meant by her comments.

“The statement from Chancellor Merkel completely undermines the credibility of the Irish Government’s approach to the negotiations on bank debt,” he said.

A Government spokesman said: “We understand that Chancellor Merkel was asked a direct question about the recapitalisation of Spanish banks and she replied in that context.”

Expanding this point, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said it was “a reply by the chancellor to a question about Spain, not about Ireland and she did not reference Ireland in the answer. Whether the chancellor was speaking specifically about a difficulty she sees in Spain, or it has a wider import, she didn’t resile from the decisions made at the council. But we will be clarifying these matters.”

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said the Taoiseach is regularly in contact with Dr Merkel and all of the other heads of state and government.

The Government spokesman added that the European Council had reaffirmed the commitments made in the EU Summit Statement of June 29th.