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Sunday 26 March 2017

Sleepless nights as two years passed by 'almost in a blur'

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey last night revealed his sense of relief when the IMF-EU bailout deal was struck.

In a frank interview, Mr Dempsey said the last two-and-a-half years had brought huge pressures and sleepless nights. Much of it, he said, is "almost a blur".

And he revealed the recent €85bn package with the IMF and EU had brought him a sense of relief when it was signed-off on.

"I'm probably a little bit unusual in that when the deal with the IMF-EU was concluded, I felt a sense of relief rather than 'isn't this a terrible thing?'" he said.

Mr Dempsey said the deal gives Ireland a "huge opportunity" to get back on course.

"From my point of view, that gave us the breathing space to try and work our way out of this over the next three or four years.

"Up to that, we had money that we could continue to pay out to public servants and for services and everything else up to July and no prospect or little prospect of getting any money at all to do that post-July, except at very, very high interest rates."

Since the decision in September 2008 to introduce a guarantee for the banks, the sequence of events that followed are "almost a blur".

But despite the "extremely tough" period in government, the minister said he wouldn't go as far as Environment Minister John Gormley who likened it to an "asylum".

Mr Dempsey had always told close family the election closest to his 55th birthday would be his last -- but retirement had been postponed because of the economic crisis.

"It has been pretty frenetic over that particular period of time. Lots of meetings. Lots of late nights, sleepless nights I suppose."

Having been first elected to the Dail in 1987, Mr Dempsey insisted his seat in Meath West was not at risk and that it was not the reason behind his decision to retire.

Irish Independent

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