independent

Monday 21 April 2014

We will get good deal on Anglo debt, says Noonan

Michael Noonan: upbeat on prospects. Photo: Collins

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is adamant the Government will get a "good deal" from Europe on the Anglo Irish Bank debt – and will not default on payments.

And while he accused Sinn Fein of "hoping the Government will fail", he admitted it would be "very difficult" for the country to make a payment on the promissory notes.

Following a substantial setback last week, when the European Central Bank (ECB) rejected the Coalition's proposals, Mr Noonan warned negotiations were continuing and "conclusions on their outcome are premature at this point".

The ECB is understood to have rejected the Government's proposal to roll the repayments on the promissory note out over 40 years.

The next repayment of €3.1bn is due at the end of March. Mr Noonan said the Government was continuing to work on a deal.

"I have never given any date (but March 31).

"We will have a deal before this year's payment on the promissory note is due. We are negotiating against the date to which I refer. I am of the view that a satisfactory arrangement will be arrived at. The negotiations are ongoing," he said.

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty claimed if Ireland did not pay the promissory note, €1.8bn of Budget adjustments would not be required in order to meet the EU- IMF bailout targets.

"There has been much talk about a deal, but one person's good deal could be another's bad deal. Many people will judge this by the effect it will have on the Budget; others will judge it in more detail because it will be complex," he said.

But Mr Noonan hit back at Sinn Fein's political and economic policies.

"The underlying position is that Sinn Fein's political strategy is to build a political movement based on the hope that the Government will fail, that the economy will decline into a worse state than it was in when we inherited it and that the people will suddenly turn to Sinn Fein to rescue them from their misery.

"All of the questions posed by those in Sinn Fein are geared towards positioning themselves so that any deal, good, bad or indifferent – I am of the view that we will obtain a good deal – can be rejected by them," he said.

Position

Mr Noonan insisted the Government was not going to default on the country's debts. "Sinn Fein's alternative position is default. I have informed the deputy on several occasions that the Irish Government is not going to default.

"He should consider what happened in Argentina just last week and what has previously occurred since it defaulted on two occasions. If he does so, he will discover why default is not an option. While it may be Sinn Fein policy, we are not going to default," he said.

Irish Independent

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