Gilmore: We will achieve bailout interest rate cut

TÁNAISTE Eamon Gilmore insisted the Government is determined to achieve a cut in the interest rate on Ireland’s crippling bailout costs at an upcoming meeting of EU finance ministers.

But the Labour leader refused to say when the reduction in the 5.8% rate could be achieved.

“We are determined to get the reduction in the interest rate. We believe that Ireland should get that reduction. It is important we get it to help the effort we are making to bring about recovery and we are confident we will achieve it,” he said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is likely to discuss the issue with his EU counterparts at this month’s meeting of finance ministers.

He has already said he hopes a lower interest rate may be agreed by June, if French and German concerns are overcome.

The ratification of Portugal’s bailout deal, however, may take precedence at the two-day meeting, which begins on Monday week.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore said: “I don’t think you can set deadlines. I think what happens is that other events overtake these issues at meetings of ministers. You can’t be absolutely descriptive about when these things will be agreed.”

The Tánaiste yesterday met 33 non-EU ambassadors at Iveagh House where he outlined potential future economic ties with their nations.

Ireland’s presidency of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) next year was also discussed.

On a separate issue, Mr Gilmore insisted no decision had been taken by the Government on applying a flat water charge to residences despite midweek reports to the contrary.

He also said that no definite itinerary had been put in place for the visit of US President Barack Obama later this month “for very good and understandable reasons”.

Government sources also effectively ruled out the use of Croke Park as a venue for a massive rally with Mr Obama.

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