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Wednesday 29 March 2017

I never quizzed US on role in bailout, admits Gilmore

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore admitted yesterday the Government has never asked the US about claims of unwanted interventions in Ireland's bailout deal negotiations.

Mr Gilmore said he was still confident the country could get a cut in the interest rate on the EU-IMF bailout loans.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said it was not "fair or sustainable" that an interest rate cut was being withheld from the one country making an effort and meeting the targets.

His Labour Party colleague, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, said he also felt the country would still get an interest rate cut.

Although expressing frustration at French demands for a hike in Ireland's corporation tax rate in return for a bailout cut, Mr Rabbitte also insisted attempts were still being made behind closed doors for a reduction. "To be honest, I believed we would have done it before now," he said.

Mr Gilmore met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tanzania to discuss an Irish-American nutrition project in the Third World. He said he briefed the Secretary of State on the country's economic progress.

But Mr Gilmore did not raise a high-profile claim that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner vetoed the previous government's attempt to force a €30bn haircut on unguaranteed bondholders.

"It's not been something that's been under discussion," he said.

Bonds

The claim of the US Treasury Secretary's opposition to a two-thirds haircut on the unguaranteed bonds in the run up to Ireland's IMF-EU negotiations was made last month by UCD Professor of Economics Morgan Kelly.

Mr Gilmore conceded that, to his knowledge, Irish officials had never raised the claim with their US counterparts.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny failed to explain last month why he didn't press US President Barack Obama on claims of the American interventions.

Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore held talks on the economy with Mr Obama during his brief visit to Ireland last month. Mr Obama offered to "do everything we can to help on the path to recovery", but he wasn't pressed on the allegation of Mr Geithner's involvement.

Meanwhile, both Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton are in the US this week promoting the country to investors.

Mr Noonan will be in New York and Washington and will also meet with IMF officials to review the implementation of the bailout to date. The minister could signal a quick disposal of Anglo Irish Bank's $10bn (€7bn) loan book this week with a shortlist of preferred bidders to be drawn up.

The bank's representatives are talking with companies including Blackstone Group LP, AREA Property Partners, Starwood Capital and Related Real Estate to secure a deal worth between $8bn (€5.6bn) and $9bn (€6.3bn). And Mr Bruton is on a week-long trade and investment mission to the west coast of the United States, where he will meet a number of key American corporations.

"Ireland is open for business and all that has made Ireland an attractive location for US investment will remain unchanged including our current corporate tax rate," he said.

Irish Independent

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