Michael Noonan insists health not the reason for missing eurozone meeting of finance ministers

Michael Noonan: Absent due to election being under way.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted his health was not the reason he missed a key eurozone meeting of finance ministers.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny suggested yesterday that Mr Noonan’s recent “health challenges” was the reason for Mr Noonan not attending the Ecofin meeting last week, but Mr Noonan’s spokesman denied this was the case.

Mr Noonan has suffered a number of health problems during his term as finance minister, including hospitalisation over Christmas for pneumonia.

In 2014, Mr Noonan announced he was recovering well from cancer and said he was committed to standing in the general election.

Mr Kenny was unable to provide a reason as to why Mr Noonan or his junior minister Simon Harris had not attended.

However, he made reference to Mr Noonan’s recent health issues.

“I just want you to know that despite some recent health challenges that he has performed heroically in going out to Europe week after week after week in this country’s interest.”

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Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

Speaking on the campaign trail in Birr, Co Offaly, Mr Kenny added that his input was “an essential part” in allowing the country to get back to recovery.

A spokesman said Mr Noonan absented himself from the meeting due to the democratic process of the general election being under way as well as the non-essential agenda of the Ecofin meeting.

“The description of the meeting as being a crunch meeting is exaggerated,” the spokesman said.

“Ireland’s position on many of the main issues were well known and there were no key decisions being taken at the meeting. It is the norm for ministers involved in an election to absent themselves from meetings,” he said.

The spokesman also stated that Ireland was represented by the Brussels Permanent Representative and other senior officials.

Mr Harris as junior minister can attend such meetings on behalf of the finance minister. However, it is understood he was not requested to do so last week.

Mr Kenny also admitted yesterday that “hundreds of thousands” of people have not felt the benefits of the recovery.

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