Ireland must be ‘assertive’ on bank debt

The Government must take a more “assertive approach” to reducing bank-related debt, according to Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin.

He said it had been “foolish” to leave the issue off the agenda at EU meetings.

He accused the Cabinet of engaging in “empty posturing” after one minister told yesterday’s Irish Examiner that a referendum on the fiscal compact treaty “puts it up to Brussels” to grant Ireland a cheaper deal on the Anglo bailout.

Mr Martin said the Government had been “talking tough” to journalists about its efforts to secure a deal from the EU and ECB on a cheaper alternative to the promissory note system funding the Anglo bailout.

“But leaving the issue off the agenda of summits was foolish,” he added.

“There will be progress on the promissory note because there must be for the sake of genuine debt sustainability and because it will have no adverse impact on the wider European economy,” he said.

During statements on today’s EU summit meeting, Mr Martin told the Dáil: “Saying that the government is ‘putting it up’ to other governments is nothing more than empty posturing. It’s fooling no one.”

Earlier the Taoiseach said he would be able to provide more information, on the vote, possibly including a timeline, after next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Enda Kenny will meet other EU heads of state in Brussels this evening for the spring European Council summit, which he said was “traditionally the annual set-piece review of economic policy in the EU”.

However, he said this was “no time for business as usual”. Mr Kenny, along with other leaders, will sign the fiscal treaty on Friday.

Independent TD Shane Ross said Mr Kenny should “go to Brussels feeling that his hand is stronger, not weaker” and the public should see “for the first time, Ireland standing up for itself in Europe”.

The Dublin South TD urged Mr Kenny to “warn the other heads of state that there’s a real danger that Ireland will reject this treaty and use it for a leverage for getting something we will not get otherwise.”

Other countries should be told that if there was a “write-off of the Anglo promissory notes it will be much easier to pass this referendum”.

Catherine Murphy. Independent TD for Kildare North, said she “could not agree with” assertions by the Government that the fiscal compact treaty and debt were to separate issues.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Government would be “asking people to cast their vote for economic and financial stability”.


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