Friday 9 December 2016

Mr Kenny's low-key Grexit from EU summit

Published 09/07/2015 | 02:30

Enda Kenny did not have much time for the media at the EU summit
Enda Kenny did not have much time for the media at the EU summit

It was described as the most important European Union Summit since the fall of the Berlin Wall with the fate of the eurozone hanging in the balance.

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Europe's leaders gathered for what could be the penultimate meeting before Greece stops printing euros after months of wrangling over a third bailout programme for the country's failing economy.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among them but showed marked reluctance to tell the people of Ireland what a Grexit could mean for this country.

The consequences for such an event will send shockwaves throughout Europe, especially in Ireland, and threaten the very existence of the eurozone.

While on the other hand, retaining Greece in the euro through an improved deal will raise questions about Ireland's bailout programme and the possibility of further debt relief for this country.

So when Mr Kenny attended the crunch meeting in Brussels, the Irish press pack eagerly waited to hear his views on the Greek debt crisis and the impact it could have on this country.

And wait they did.

Tradition

At previous EU summits, Mr Kenny spoke to journalists at length about both European and Irish issues - a practice among Taoisigh that dates back decades.

Before the Wednesday evening meeting, his handlers indicated there may be a short question and answer session but nothing was confirmed.

Mr Kenny arrived with time to spare before the meeting of EU leaders and made a 30-second statement before walking off as reporters eager to get his views on the crucial summit were left baffled.

After the meeting, which ended just after 11pm Brussels time, Mr Kenny again made a short statement and fielded two questions from reporters waiting to hear his insights on a possible Grexit. He said "time was of the essence" for Greece and he hoped a deal would be concluded successfully by Sunday.

There was no time to ask him his views on what a Grexit might mean for Ireland, or ask if we would benefit from a Greece debt deal, as was the case when other struggling economies received new loan arrangements.

A Government spokesman insisted there was no set practice in place whereby the Taoiseach speaks to the Irish media extensively after EU summits. He also insisted other EU leaders do not speak to travelling media to the extent Mr Kenny has previously.

Irish Independent

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