Tuesday 26 September 2017

Ghost of Anglo haunts last days of presidency

Finance Minister Michael Noonan will have lots to ponder today as he re-opens the stalled talks on forging a European banking union. Those talks, which are critical to Ireland's economic future, broke up in disarray in Luxembourg on Saturday morning as Europe's finance ministers failed once again to agree common rules on who pays when a bank collapses.

For the best part of a year, the minds of European politicians have focused on one overriding issue, banking union. Mr Noonan will need all of the good humour for which he is well-known when he faces his fellow finance ministers and argues that large countries should rescue countries like Ireland in future when the whole world now knows that this country is liable to save banks on the basis of pie-in-the-sky valuations.

Anglo Irish has once again damaged our reputation overseas and damaged our chances of recovering from the crisis triggered by the bank's demise.

This is a shame. By establishing stricter oversight of Europe's banking sector and a unified system for dealing with any problems, Europe has a real chance of drawing a line under more than three years of debt and economic turmoil.

We can only do this if foreign lenders believe that there are no more nasty surprises coming down the tracks from our broken banks and banks in other countries.

Foreign lenders can only believe Ireland is safe if they can be convinced that there are no more revelations similar to this week's revelations about just how reckless our banks were.

All the signs are that Mr Noonan will not succeed today which will leave Taoiseach Enda Kenny with the almost impossible task of getting a deal when the last summit of the Irish presidency opens in Brussels tomorrow.

It seems that the Irish presidency, which has not enjoyed much conspicuous success, is about to end in failure with the ghost of Anglo Irish hovering in the background.

Irish Independent

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