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Noonan inists Honohan comments on fiscal compact his own

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Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has insisted the governor of the Central Bank is free to give his views on the European fiscal treaty.

Mr Noonan said: "Patrick Honohan is independent as governor of the Central Bank and is quite free to express his view.

"He does not require permission from the Government and he does not seek and we do not give him advice as governor of the Central Bank.

"There was a lot of criticism at the time of the financial crisis that the regulators and governors didn't speak out. I'd find it a wee bit peculiar to blame him now."

In a speech last night, Mr Honohan said a Yes vote in the May 31 referendum would be a safer alternative.

The governor was widely commended for breaking ranks with the last coalition Government in 2010 to confirm that Ireland was on course for a bailout before the International Monetary Fund was brought in.

Mr Noonan also had a dig at Sinn Fein over the party's selective quoting of economists as part of its No campaign. The minister suggested the party was not given a chance to censor the governor and "cross out" bits.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has rejected suggestions the No campaign is gaining momentum and warned that the fiscal compact would not be renegotiated.

"The treaty won't be torn up," he said.

Three major unions have already pledged to reject the treaty, saying it will create further austerity in the country, while the Irish Congress of Trade Unions refused to take any decision on it.

The Civil Public and Services Union will meet today to consider its stance on the deal.