Tuesday 16 January 2018

Eamon Gilmore denies cabinet rift over second Irish bailout

Michael McHugh

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has denied any cabinet table rift over whether Ireland will need a second bailout.

Labour Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton refused to rule out the possibility in an earlier interview.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week rejected suggestions the State would require further aid because of fears that falling growth rates would threaten recovery.

Mr Gilmore said: "We are in a programme, we are meeting all the targets that have been set down in that programme.

"The Government`s objective is to work our way out of that programme, to say goodbye to the IMF and ECB and EU representatives in Dublin, to do that as quickly as possible and to get back into the markets.

"There is a single unified government position on that and that is that we want to get out of the programme as quickly as possible and all of the measures that we are taking are aimed in that direction."

He was in Belfast for meetings with Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and members of the Stormont Executive.

Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter sparked the bailout controversy by warning last week that Ireland should have a bailout "on standby". Mr Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan rejected the suggestion.

A spokesman for the European Commission has said that speculation about a potential second bailout for Ireland is "not helpful", given that the first programme is delivering and that Ireland enjoyed positive growth in 2011.

The spokesman for Commissioner Olli Rehn, Amadeu Altafaj, said that Ireland had showed strong progress in export growth, banking sector reform, structural reform and in its general fiscal position.

Officials from the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission today began the fifth review of the loan programme to Ireland.

The mission, with a focus on restructuring the banking sector, began with the troika meeting Kevin Cardiff, outgoing secretary general of the Department of Finance. Also present were Brendan McDonagh, CEO of NAMA, and John Corrigan, boss of the National Treasury Management Agency. Two officials from the Central Bank also met the troika officials.

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