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Saturday 16 December 2017

Coveney rules out Cypriot-style levy on bank savings

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney has vowed that there will be no Cypriot-style levy on bank savings here.

He was speaking after the Cypriot parliament  rejected an EU bailout plan which would have targeted the bank savings of the citizens in the small Mediterranean country.

Mr Coveney told the Dail that he wanted to give a firm assurance that the Government would not be introducing a Cypriot-style levy on bank deposits.

"We will not be targeting bank deposits for any purposes," he said.

Mr Coveney was standing for the first time at Leader's Questions in the Dail due to the fact that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other senior ministers are abroad on St Patrick's Day visits.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath criticised Finance Minister Michael Noonan for being one of the Eurozone finance ministers who had supported the EU bailout deal for Cyprus. He said it had sent out the message that bank deposits were no longer sacrosanct.

"A rubicon has been crossed and a dangerous precedent has been set," he said.

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the Government had undermined its own case for a banking debt deal - by supporting the move to raid Cypriot savings accounts to pay for the debts of its banks.

Independent TD John Halligan adopted a different approach, calling on Mr Coveney to either introduce legislation or call a referendum to cut the €100,000-plus pensions enjoyed by 167 retired bankers.

"They are walking all over you. It's time we stood up to them," he said.

But Mr Coveney said the Government's legal advice was that it could not interfere with the contractual arrangements of retired bankers. He said the Government had written to the state-supported banks to get them to reduce their salary costs by 6-10pc.

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