Minister Simon Harris plays down Irish difficulties from Greece vote

Ireland is unlikely to face any serious economic difficulties if Greece votes against its international bailout and potentially then leaves the euro, according to Simon Harris, the junior finance minister.

Minister Simon Harris plays down Irish difficulties from Greece vote

The Fine Gael minister said Ireland wants Greece to remain in the euro and for Athens to return to the negotiating table with European leaders over its bailout terms.

Mr Harris was speaking ahead of a referendum in Greece on Sunday where voters will ultimately decide whether they favour a cash-for-reforms proposal from Athens’ creditors.

He said: “I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen already this week very little upset in the Irish markets. We don’t have a massive amount of trade with Greece. So in that sense, I don’t think there’s a serious risk of economic contagion.”

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, earlier asked Ireland to join Greece in a stand against international creditors and debts owed. On RTÉ, Mr Varoufakis said: “It is about time the Irish and the Greeks, possibly the Portuguese and other peoples of Europe, request a very sensible debt relief exercise, for the whole of Europe, without haircuts.”

Mr Harris said there was a big difference between the position of Greece and Ireland. However he did say he was in favour of debt-restructuring for Greece, as had happened with Ireland’s long-term debts.

“Ireland has already benefited quite significantly from that — the repayment of IMF loans early, the extension of our maturities, lower interest rates,” he said. “All of which has improved the cashflow position of this country by around €50bn over the next 10 years.”

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