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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Rabbitte tells Europe 'that's all folks' – but Enda tries the diplomatic road

Michael Brennan and Lise Hand

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has rowed back on the blunt comments made by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte about not paying the next €3.1bn of the Anglo Irish Bank debt bill.

It came after Mr Rabbitte went further than other cabinet colleagues by clearly stating that the Government could not and would not pay it.

But Mr Kenny took a more diplomatic approach by referring to the need to get agreement with the European Central Bank on the Anglo debt before the March 31 deadline.

"I've already said that our focus is on having a deal done before then in terms of re-engineering and restructuring this debt so that it won't have to be paid," he said.

The Government is under increasing pressure to reach a deal because the gradual repayment of the €31bn cost of the Anglo wind-up will add €1.9bn to the State's massive interest bill next year.

It is not seeking a write-off of the Anglo debt, but is hoping to stretch out the repayments over a much longer period to relieve the pressure on the national finances.

Although Mr Kenny insisted that there was no difference between him and Mr Rabbitte, he was nowhere near as blunt in his remarks about the next €3.1bn installment of the Anglo debt IOU – which is known as a promissory note.

"What I'm saying is that the Government have set out our focus on this as being in a position to arrive at a conclusion, to have a decision made, and that this matter can be restructured, re-engineered so Ireland will not have to pay it in March of next year," he said.

In contrast, Mr Rabbitte pre-determined the outcome of the ECB negotiations, which are believed to be at an advanced stage, with his recent comments on RTE's 'Week in Politics'.

"We didn't pay the promissory note this year and as far as I'm concerned we're not going to pay it next year either. It's as simple as that," he said.

Mr Rabbitte continued to keep up the pressure on the ECB and the EU yesterday.

"We have done our bit in terms of the conditions imposed on us and I hope that Europe will reciprocate," he said.

Irish Independent

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