Friday 28 November 2014

EU 'betrayed Ireland over debt'

Published 20/12/2013 | 12:22

Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath criticised remarks by European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso who said Ireland was the cause of the euro crisis, not the victim
Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath criticised remarks by European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso who said Ireland was the cause of the euro crisis, not the victim

Europe has betrayed Ireland over commitments to ease the cost of saving banks, opposition politicians have claimed.

The allegation was levelled after European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso claimed that Ireland was the cause of the euro crisis, not the victim.

The outspoken remarks just days after the bailout loan programme ended have done real damage to claims from the Government that a legacy bank debt deal is a long-term target.

The top official in Brussels also said that the proposed banking union across Europe is to protect against future losses in finance houses and not past.

Michael McGrath, Fianna Fail finance Spokesperson said his damaging remarks were a betrayal of previous commitments made by EU leaders that the Irish debt crisis would be treated as a "special case".

"President Barroso's blunt comments about Ireland are not open to misinterpretation," he said.

"He has essentially shut the door on any European Commission support for a deal on retroactive bank recapitalisation for Ireland."

Mr McGrath said it flies in the face of a statement from EU leaders on June 29 2012 which separated bank and sovereign debt.

"In his comments, President Barroso has completely ignored the role played by European authorities in the full cost of bailing out Irish banks being shouldered by the Irish state. He should be reminded that the ECB flatly rejected efforts by the previous and current governments to impose losses on unguaranteed senior bondholders," he said.

Fianna Fail called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to get commitments from EU leaders on legacy bank debt.

The row has broken out as the latest stage in the creation of a banking union to avoid future tax-payer bailouts of banks in Europe was signed off.

Mr Barroso said people should be honest about the Irish debt crisis and added: "I am saying this because it would be wrong to give the impression that Europe has created a problem for Ireland and now Europe has to help Ireland.

"In fact it was the banking sector in Ireland, that was one of the biggest problems in the world in terms of banking stability, let's be honest about this."

Minister of State for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe said this morning that the Government remained determined to do all it could to recoup taxpayers' money injected into the banks.

Elsewhere, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the Government has been badly exposed by Mr Barroso's remarks.

"The most important issue facing this state is dealing with the unsustainable bank debt, foisted on our citizens by a Fianna Fail Government which crashed the economy and gave away the state's economic sovereignty," he said.

"It has been Sinn Fein's consistent position that the Government needs to assertively pursue historic recapitalisation of Irish banks to attain the maximum benefit for the citizens of this state."

Mr Adams claimed the damaging comments from Mr Barroso have exposed the Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government's negotiation tactics.

"This Government has, once again, miserably failed to defend and promote the interests of Irish citizens," he said.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Barroso was attempting to place the blame for the financial crisis firmly at Ireland's door and to remove any responsibility from Europe.

"He is sending a strong signal that retroactive recapitalisation of Irish banks is not going to happen," she said.

She added: "Enda Kenny needs to make it clear to the European Commission that Europe played a major role in the financial crisis in this state and therefore carries a significant responsibility."

Press Association

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