Saturday 1 October 2016

Noonan rejects claims he tried to prevent better EU debt deal for Greece

Minister said his aim was to protect euro currency zone

Published 23/06/2015 | 14:57

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has rejected allegations he was trying to ensure Greece did not get a better EU debt deal than Ireland.

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Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) TD, Ruth Coppinger, told the Dail she believed the Finance Minister had lined up with Germany at a crucial EU meeting in Brussels on Monday.  She said his aim was to ensure Greece did not secure a deal on debt which Ireland had already failed to get.

“How dare you lecture the Greek government,” Ms Coppinger said referring to media reports from the crunch meetings in Brussels on the future of Greece as a member of the 19-state currency union, the Eurozone.

But Mr Noonan strongly rejected these assertions. He said his aim was to ensure the defence of the single currency, the financial health of Eurozone, and Greece’s continued membership of it.

“The Deputy is ascribing views to me which I don’t hold and never have held,” the Finance Minister replied.

Ms Coppinger said the EU-ECB-Troika had imposed draconian economic policies on Greece which were comparable to Ireland’s recent experience. She said the fallout for Greek society was extremely negative.

The AAA TD said suicide rates in Greece had grown by 35pc since 2010 while domestic violence had grown by 47pc. She said that 35pc of Greek people were now living below the poverty line.

Mr Noonan said his intervention at Monday’s meeting of Eurozone finance ministers was aimed at finding out from European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, how long Greece would continue getting emergency bank funding. The Minister said the ECB governor had said this was continuing on a day-to-day basis which was unacceptable.

The Finance Minister said he was now hopeful Greece can agree a new economic programme with the EU-ECB-Troika within the next 48 hours.

“Ireland understands and empathises with the difficult situation faced by the Greek people,” the Finance Minister said.

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