White on collision course with Fine Gael

Labour leader candidate Alex White has put himself on a collision course with his Fine Gael coalition partners after suggesting Ireland can push back its commitment to reducing its debt.

His suggestion has struck Department of Finance officials who yesterday privately warned such a move could result in Ireland being fined by the European Union.

Mr White, in a personal message to Labour’s 5,000 members, said: “I am confident that we will still be able to meet our deficit target for 2015, but, if we miss it by a few months, then so be it.”

Department of Finance sources warned against any reneging on Ireland’s commitment to reduce its budget deficit to 3% by 2015.

The Government hopes to forecast the reduction in October’s budget and to say the target should be met by the end of next year.

Mr White’s suggestion — that the target date could be moved back — would be contrary to Ireland’s commitments under the excessive deficit procedures in the Fiscal Stability Treaty, say department sources.

Such a move could also land Ireland with fines from Brussels, officials said.

It would also mean Ireland would have to borrow more money, with the delayed reduction, and send out a bad signal to the markets, department sources added.

Mr White’s pitch to Labour supporters is also contrary to pledges made by senior Fine Gael figures to date, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

In his letter, the TD also attacked Sinn Féin saying the party’s “facile nonsense” policy must be exposed.

He also said significant Government decisions, such as Enda Kenny “firing” Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, had to be discussed with the Tánaiste.

Mr White’s comments came as deputy leader candidates yesterday made their personal pitch to Labour members ahead of next month’s vote on the new leadership.

More in this section

Price info
IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.