Tuesday 23 May 2017

Kenny: we will continue to pay our way

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday said the Government isn't looking for a write-off of on the country's debt as it paid over €1.25bn to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that if one word was needed to describe the problem in Ireland, it was "debt" -- sovereign debt, banking debt and personal debt.

Mr Noonan warned of "consequences" for Ireland if the Anglo bond was not paid.

"We have been told on a number of occasions by the Central Bank, particularly in Mr Trichet's time, that it would have very, very serious consequences for Ireland if this weren't paid," he said.

Mr Kenny said he did not know the identity of bondholders as the Coalition continued to be criticised for paying over the debt.

But the Taoiseach said the Government was not seeking a write-off in its talks at European level. "This Government has not looked for any write-off and is not looking for a write-off," he said.

"We have paid our way and will pay our way," he added.

Mr Kenny said the priority was working with the European Central Bank and EU governments on the promissory notes, which will cost the country €3bn a year for the next decade.

He said the negotiation process was under way and "enhanced by a proposal by the troika itself".

Mr Kenny made the comments before travelling to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, where the eurozone crisis will be debated.

He will informally meet EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also defended the payment of the bond. "It riles me as well. What we have to do and what we are doing is we have been involved in discussions over time with the troika about the whole Irish debt situation and those discussions are ongoing."

Independent TD Shane Ross queried Mr Noonan's negotiation tactics. "Is he prepared to look at a write-off of the substantial capital?" he asked.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called on the Taoiseach to name the bondholders. "The people have the right to know," he said.

Last night, the Dail continued its debate on the payment of the Anglo debt.

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell rejected the suggestion the markets had no memory. She said the international markets would lend to Ireland after a default -- but at a very high price.

"If you think the banks are strapped for cash now, just think what it would be like after a default," she said.

Labour Party TD Derek Nolan welcomed the fall in the State's borrowing costs. He said the lower state borrowing costs were a positive sign.

"For the first time since the State was bailed out in November 2010, the five-year Irish government bond yields fell to below 6pc. This has brought the cost of borrowing to a record low, and is compared to a yield of nearly 18pc last July," he said.

Irish Independent

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