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Thursday 14 December 2017

'Don't expect move' on efforts to cut interest bill

Laura Noonan

EFFORTS to cut more than €15bn from the bank bailout bill will take a back seat at a crunch meeting of eurozone finance ministers tonight as Greece and Italy dominate.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan last week said Ireland could save as much as €20bn from the cost of its bank bailouts as a result of ongoing negotiations with Europe.

Finance ministers from across the eurozone will meet tonight in Brussels, but sources last night said Mr Noonan was not expecting to make "major progress" on the issue.

"The focus will be very much on Greece, and on Italy to a lesser extent," one source said.

"The minister can raise the bank situation if there's an opportunity, but I wouldn't be expecting any sudden moves."

Mr Noonan wants Europe's bailout fund to loan Ireland money to pay down the €30bn IOU used to bailout Anglo -- an instrument that carries an interest cost of about €17bn.

More recently, he floated the idea of the bailout fund taking over the Government's stakes in AIB and other bailed-out banks.

This would cut our interest bill and reduce the national debt.

"The ideas have all been put on the table," said one source.

Irish Independent

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