Noonan rejects counter-claims on access to IMF funds

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said that comments made by an IMF spokesperson in an article in today's Sunday Times were misrepresented.

The article stated that Ireland could apply to the agency for another bailout if required, regardless of how the country votes in the Fiscal Treaty referendum.

But in a statement this afternoon, Minister Noonan said the IMF has made it clear in negotiations with Ireland that unilateral assistance will not be given to Eurozone countries.

He also says the Fund will only contribute to a bailout if Europe takes the lead, and that its contribution would depend on the amount coming from the EU.

Minister Noonan says if Ireland votes No in the referendum, we will not have access to European Stability Mechanism (ESM) funds, which will be the only source for a bailout when the current Irish programme ends.

However Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Government of risking the state's re-entry to the bond markets by "creating confusion" about future access to emergency funding.

“More and more people and organisations are realising that our access to European funding is not the real issue here because it is within the power of the Government to prevent us being excluded from ESM if there is a No vote," Deputy McDonald said.

“Today we see the IMF statement that a No vote would not prevent us applying for its funds if we need them in future.

"The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is also available to us up until the middle of next year," she added.

"The government is trying to distract people with these threats about funding, while the real issue is putting this clause into the constitution to impose austerity into the future and to give power over our economy to the EU."

Meanwhile Micheál Martin said the Government has been "too slow off the blocks" when it comes to campaigning for a Yes vote in the EU Fiscal Treaty referendum.

The Fianna Fail leader made his remarks after an opinion poll released today shows that 18% percent of people still haven't made up their minds about which way they will vote on May 31.

The survey of voters also shows a slight increase in those that will vote against the treaty.

Mr Martin says the coalition parties still haven't got a clear message together.

"I think they have been too slow off the blocks," he said.

"I think they have not provided sufficient information quickly and in time.

"They have also failed to pull together a simple, straightforward message in relation to why people should vote Yes."

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