Friday 23 June 2017

Coveney: We won't seek debt relief even if Greece gets improved package

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has insisted Ireland will not seek further debt relief
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has insisted Ireland will not seek further debt relief

Philip Ryan and Niall O'Connor

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has insisted Ireland will not seek further debt relief even if Greece gets an improved package in a new bailout deal.

Mr Coveney said Ireland "dramatically" reduced its debt burden through a number of arrangements with creditors and was on the path to recovery.

He said Greece naturally wanted debt relief as part of a new package but insisted the eurozone member states would not agree to such a move.

Mr Coveney was asked a number of times on RTÉ Radio One's 'Morning Ireland' if the Government would seek more debt relief if Greece received an improved package.

He was pushed on a previous comment he made suggesting Ireland should benefit from a Greek deal.

He was also asked about comments from German politician Ralph Brinkhaus, who suggested countries involved in bailout programmes would seek debt write-down if some of Greece's debt was written off.

"I would do it if I was the prime minister of Ireland or Spain, of course," Mr Brinkhaus said.

Mr Coveney declined to comment on Mr Brinkhaus's remarks, and then appeared to confuse his response as he said he believed Greece would not get "debt relief".

He possibly meant a "debt write-down" but a spokesperson was not able to clarify this last night.

"Of course they want debt relief, we wanted debt relief as well but it wasn't possible and it wasn't on the table and it is still not on the table," Mr Coveney said.

Last night a Government spokesman said retrospective recapitalisation "remains an option".

"Michael Noonan will also operate in the best interests of the Irish taxpayer," he said.

A senior Government source stressed that Ireland would not seek a renegotiated bailout package on the back of a new Greek deal.

"We already restructured our debt and that's why more people are waking up and going to work in the mornings. You wake up in Athens, you don't have a job," the source said.

The source said the Government would be against any form of a debt write-down "because it leaves a hole in the balance sheets of all the member states".

Irish Independent

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