Ministers clash over our ability to return to markets

Government ministers have clashed over whether Ireland will be able to return to the markets next year for funds and the possibility of having to access the EU’s future bailout fund.

The confusion came as it emerged Enda Kenny will deliver a TV address at the weekend to counter-balance coverage of Sinn Féin’s conference and their call for a no vote on the EU treaty.

The Government confirmed that the Taoiseach had been invited by RTÉ to appear on a treaty debate, expected to be on Prime Time, next Tuesday, two days before polling.

No campaigners yesterday also upped their campaign with calls to reject the treaty because Ireland had received no deal on its bank debt from Europe.

Lucinda Creighton, the European affairs minister, said it could be doubtful that Ireland re-entered the bond markets in 2013, when current bailout funds run out. She said we “very well may need” to access the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in 2013 and 2014.

Later, she qualified her remarks: “Very difficult is what I said. The Government has repeatedly stated our intention to access the markets by the end of 2013. But there are no guarantees in this world. There’s a very difficult and challenging environment in Europe at the moment.”

A failure to access the markets would likely see Ireland turn to the ESM for funds, a situation only made possible by passing the EU treaty, according to the referendum commission.

Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, insisted that Ireland would return to the markets next year.

“My view is the Government’s view, which is that we will be able to return to the markets. But we need to work to build confidence in the economy.”

It has also emerged that Mr Kenny will make a special television address on the treaty on RTÉ on Sunday evening.

RTÉ asked the Taoiseach to make the speech to balance out its weekend coverage of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adam’s speech at his party’s ard fheis, where he will advocate a no vote.

The Dáil will also not sit next week in order to allow TDs campaign in constituencies.

No campaigners yesterday argued that Ireland would be guaranteed funding from Europe whether we sign up to the EU treaty or not.

Independent TD Mick Wallace said: “If Ireland needs a second bailout, it would be suicide on the part of Europe not to give it to us. It would not be in their interests, it would be like cutting off their nose to spite their face.”

No campaigner and businessman Declan Ganley said that the treaty would not help cut Ireland’s bank debt.

The €500bn ESM fund was only be a “placebo”, he argued, and would not be enough to cover debts across all member states.

He claimed the Taoiseach was “hiding behind a teleprompter” by not engaging in an open TV debate.


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