Eamon Gilmore insisted Ireland was on track to exit its bailout programme by the end of next year, despite claims by Fianna Fáil that the country was likely to need a second financial rescue package.
The Tánaiste dismissed claims by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that Ireland could need a second bailout when money from the current one runs out at the end of 2013.
However, Mr Gilmore did warn that some kind of a second deal may be needed if voters rejected the EU treaty next week.
Mr Martin had said there was always only a 50:50 chance of Ireland returning to the markets to borrow and that the value of euro was plummeting. There was a very strong likelihood that Ireland would need to apply for a second bailout, he told The Sunday Times.
However, Mr Gilmore said he and the Government were confident that Ireland would be able to exit the current programme and access borrowing on the open markets.
“If we don’t pass the stability treaty, I think it is far more likely that we will need a bailout. And in those circumstances we wouldn’t have access to the European Stability Mechanism [the EU’s future bailout fund]. So we’d end up with the worst of both worlds.”
Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tobin accused the yes side of using fear tactics on voters.
The independent referendum commission says that Ireland will be unable to access the ESM if voters reject the referendum, as Ireland will not be a signatory to the fiscal compact treaty.
Mr Gilmore said: “We’re on target to exit the programme and therefore not to need a second bailout.”
Elsewhere, Greece’s former prime minister criticised recent comments by Finance Minister Michael Noonan where he joked about Greece and feta cheese in Irish shopping baskets. George Papandreou suggested that such comments and language undermined European solidarity and were “flippant”.
He said it was inappropriate to address problems through stereotypes.
Mr Noonan defended his remarks, made at a conference last week, and said they were made to distance, in a simple way, Ireland’s connections with Greece.
He told RTE’s This Week that he thought it would be better communication to use the basket analogy rather than statistics. “I just wanted to make it important to an international audience that Ireland does not have strong links with Greece” in terms of the economy, trade or banks. “I’m trying to stop contagion. It’s my job as finance minister to try to protect the economy.”
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