TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has warned that Irish taxpayers, who have paid for the €64bn bank bailout, cannot be left to "bear the weight" of supporting the European financial system on their own.
He delivered his strongly worded call for a bank debt deal in an article which was published in newspapers in nine different European countries to mark the start of Ireland's six- month EU Presidency.
Mr Gilmore said the Government would be acting on the promise made by EU leaders to break the "vicious circle" between banks and member states – which has seen the Irish state loaded down with €64bn in banking debt. He went on to make a clear reference to the need for EU states to agree a bank-debt deal for Ireland.
"The taxpayers of individual member states cannot be left to bear the weight of the European financial system alone. Where a financial institution poses a risk to Europe as a whole, Europe as a whole must deal with the fallout that threatens everyone," he said.
The Government has been arguing for a bank-debt deal on the grounds that the decision to guarantee payment of all the Irish banks' debts in 2008 helped to preserve confidence in the European financial system as a whole. It is also telling EU leaders that without a bank-debt deal, Ireland will find it harder to borrow enough funds at affordable rates on the markets to exit the bailout deal by the end of this year.
Mr Gilmore said that the Government was working with its partners "to make sure this difficult task is achieved".
According to the department, Mr Gilmore's article has been published this week in newspapers in eight other European countries including Italy, Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic.
They have a combined daily circulation of 1.4 million copies. It is also due to be published this week in Spain's 'El Pais' newspaper, which sells 400,000 copies a day, and Denmark's Politiken newspaper, which has a circulation of 375,000.
It is part of an attempt to repair Ireland's battered image in Europe, which took a severe knock after it went from being a Celtic Tiger to a bailout country.
In his article, Mr Gilmore said the economy had returned to growth, the deficit in the public finances was being reduced and the banks had been recapitalised "below the expected cost".
"The example of Ireland shows that there is a path back from crisis. Again, it is not an easy path – or one that is yet finished – but it is a credible one," he said. Mr Gilmore said it had required the Government to make "difficult choices" and "ask much" of the Irish people.