Saturday 1 October 2016

Crisis was finished by the time Joan Burton took over, says Noonan

Published 18/12/2015 | 00:00

Michael Noonan: ‘job now is to keep the recovery going. Pic: Steve Humphreys
Michael Noonan: ‘job now is to keep the recovery going. Pic: Steve Humphreys

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said history will be kind to Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore - but "the crisis was over" by the time Joan Burton took over as Tánaiste.

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He believes Mr Gilmore didn't wander "blindly into unpopularity" but was acting in the interest of the country.

And in a wide-ranging interview with the 'Limerick Leader', the Limerick TD explained why he didn't appear on Vincent Browne's TV3 show when it recently aired from his constituency.

"Vincent Browne could be running a programme all night from the Statue of Liberty and Michael Noonan will not go on," Mr Noonan said.

He said that Mr Browne knew he would not appear on his show but refused to say what their disagreement was about.

"I'm not going to get into that in any way whatsoever.

"But I mean, he comes up here, into Limerick, and he launches an attack on me for no good reason.

"Vincent would have known four years ago that I wouldn't appear on his programme," he said, adding: "I just don't like the fella."

Asked by the Irish Independent if he wanted to respond to the minister, Mr Browne said: "I'm not getting into anything with Michael Noonan about that or anything else."

Mr Noonan said his relationship with Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has developed from "an excellent working relationship" to "a strong personal relationship".

He also praised Mr Gilmore for his part in government, but in relation to current Labour Party leader Joan Burton, Mr Noonan said: "She's doing fine. But the crisis was over by the time she took over."

At 72, Mr Noonan is still working 12-hour days and wants to return to the Department of Finance after the election.

"I'm after five budgets now and it's for the public to judge, but from my perspective the country is more or less sorted out again.

"The job now is to keep the recovery going - so I would like to spend another couple of years to make sure the recovery continues to go forward," he said.

Risks

The former Fine Gael leader believes the party should not form a coalition with Fianna Fáil as this would be "handing the country over to a Sinn Féin-led government" at the following election.

Mr Noonan said the main risks to the economy are now external issues, such as the migrant crisis and the attitude of Russia.

"I mean, the real objective is to put the recovery inside the door of every family in the country. And we have quite a distance to go on that," he said.

He is "not sure" whether he will write a book about his time in politics but he does intend to leave a paper trail from his time as finance minister.

"It would be a pity not to, because it has been a very interesting time, over the last five years," he said.

"I would be able to take copies of all the memoranda I took to Government, for example. I'd be able to take out copies of all the meetings of the Troika, over three years.

"I'd have copies of records of meetings in Brussels where I was going every month for five years. So there is quite a rich (archive) and as the minister I'm entitled to take them with me," Mr Noonan said, adding that he would most likely donate them to a university.

"There are a lot of good people around, people writing history, at both Trinity and UCD.

"Limerick University has a strong economics department, but it doesn't have a strong history department. But I haven't made up my mind yet," he added.

With regard to his wife, Florence (68), who passed away in 2012 after battling Alzheimer's, Mr Noonan said: "I'd have regrets that she's not with me, personal regrets."

Irish Independent

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