Wednesday 17 January 2018

‘Real and present danger’ - Kenny fears collapse of euro

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has admitted his deep fears over the rapidly worsening eurozone crisis and the collapse of the euro.

Mr Kenny said the future of Ireland is at stake if European leaders fail to act decisively and prevent the spread of contagion.

"This is a matter of the highest concern and urgency," said Mr Kenny.

"There is a real and present sense of danger, with many openly suggesting that the very future of the currency as we know it is at stake."

He said he intends to table his own views and proposals at the next eurozone summit on December 9, which will include a greater reliance on the European Central Bank (ECB).

"The House will appreciate how damaging this continuing situation is for Ireland," added Mr Kenny.

"A stable eurozone is a vital national interest for Ireland and its future."

The Taoiseach said the ECB was Ireland's answer to the threat of contagion, which includes a potential second collapse of the national economy and, in a worst case scenario, the fall of the euro.

"Our view as the Government here is very clear," he went on. "This problem must be dealt with politically and dealt with now."

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) revealed earlier that the economy will grow by only 0.9% next year - a steep reduction from its previously predicted 2.3%.

The report pointed out that Ireland may still be able to reach its fiscal targets but will find it more difficult to do so given the deepening crisis in Europe.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin had accused the Taoiseach of keeping the Government in the dark over Ireland's contingency plans should the crisis turn into a catastrophe.

He said there had been no sense of Ireland putting forward any ideas or suggestions to Europe in previous summits.

"Can you confirm that the Government has plans for worst case scenario?" asked Mr Martin. "People are talking about a crisis turning into a catastrophe."

Mr Kenny insisted that he intends to make his voice heard in Europe when heads of state meet at the next major summit, when European Council President Herman Van Rompuy is expected to present a paper on easing the crisis.

"This is an issue of real concern to this country and every other country in the eurozone and beyond, even the US," said Mr Kenny.

"We've got views and I won't be afraid to discuss them when we get out there."

Mr Kenny added that other suggestions he intends to table will include some form of eurobonds and changes within the existing European treaties, explaining: "It is the ends and not the means that are critical here."

He added: "What we agree at the European Council must be credible and convincing in the eyes of the financial markets and credible in the eyes of the public.

"In my approach to the meeting I will be reminding colleagues that, economically, Ireland remains vulnerable."

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