Thursday 22 February 2018

Government accused of chickening out on day of €700m Anglo payout

Lyndsey Telford

THE GOVERNMENT has been accused of extending the bank holiday break with a "duvet day" and refusing TDs the chance to resist a €700m payment of taxpayers' money to Anglo bondholders.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said political parties could have changed the Government's mind and convinced it to use taxpayers' cash "for the good of the people, not toxic banks".

The multimillion interest repayment is due tomorrow.

"There is still time to stop this outrageous handover," Mrs McDonald said.

"The Government should do the right thing by the people and use this money for the good of the people, not toxic banks."

Mrs McDonald, spokeswoman on public expenditure and reform, pointed out that Gerry Adams last week called for the Dail to be brought back today to allow parties to debate the crucial repayment, but it was refused.

"Tomorrow's payout comes just one month before an austerity budget which will inflict hardship on children, on carers, on the disabled and on the working poor," she said.

"In January a further €1.2bn will be paid out - tomorrow is only the first payment of billions of taxpayers' money.

"This is simply not acceptable and what is even more unacceptable is the fact that the Government would rather take a duvet day today than allow TDs to debate this crucial issue that will affect so many."

The European Central Bank, which has provided ongoing funding for the Irish banks, wants the bondholders repaid.

Anglo, which went bust in 2009, does not have an integral role in the banking system in Ireland as it no longer has deposits, it is not lending and the bonds it is repaying are not guaranteed.

Bondholders are institutions, from blue chip banks and corporations to pension funds, that lend money to countries in return for regular interest payments. The identities of the Anglo bondholders are unknown.

Anglo Irish Bank was nationalised after its lending practices contributed to the collapse of the country's economy. Some €29.3bn has been pumped into the bank by the Irish Government.

Last month it was renamed Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. It will trade under IBRC until it is completely wound up.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail urged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make a last-ditch effort to stop tomorrow's €715m repayment.

The party's finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, said Mr Kenny should contact the new President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi.

"He needs to personally make contact with Mr Draghi and impress upon him the need for Ireland to make substantial savings on the outstanding bank debt owed by Anglo/Irish Nationwide," said Mr McGrath.

"Otherwise, it will make the task of convincing the Irish people of the need for the measures in the upcoming budgets all the more difficult."

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