Irish bank debt deal still on table – Moran
John Moran, the outgoing secretary general at the Department of Finance, has said Irish hopes of getting a reduction on our bank debt borrowings remain alive.
Speaking at his last appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) before he steps down, Mr Moran, pictured, said he and his key officials remain committed to reducing Ireland's debt, despite deep resistance at European level to any deal.
"We have not allowed the language to drop off the table, it is still very much alive from our perspective," Mr Moran said.
Mr Moran was being asked about his views after a prominent former adviser to the president of the European Commission has described the EU's treatment of Ireland throughout the financial crisis as "outrageous".
Philippe Legrain – who was personally headhunted by Commission president Manuel Barroso in 2011 to advise him on economic strategy – gave a damning condemnation of what he said amounted to "bullying" by the EU.
Under questioning from PAC member Independent TD Shane Ross and chairman John McGuinness, Mr Moran said the approach of Government has not changed and that a reduction of some of the €64bn is still being sought. Mr Moran said that any conclusion on the debt is unlikely until the establishment of the Europe-wide Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) later this year.
The ECB is set to assume oversight of euro-area lenders in November 2014, as part of a regional banking union that aims to fix some of the faults of monetary union.
Mr Moran also said he is "quite relaxed" about the pending stress tests of the Irish banks later this year, saying they are in good shape to pass.
"We do not see a systemic issue in regard to our banks here in Ireland. There are broader threats to the European system, but nothing immediate here," he said.
He compared the improving state of the Irish banks to where they were in 2011, when they were reliant on more than €150bn in emergency liquidity assistance from the ECB.
"You are talking about a banking system which was relying on €150bn from the ECB because no one was willing to lend to them, but that is no longer the case," he said.