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Geoghegan-Quinn defends Kenny in bailout rate-cut row

EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn yesterday rubbished claims from her former Fianna Fail party colleagues that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is not pushing hard for a reduction in the bailout interest rate.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin this week questioned Mr Kenny's commitment to securing a cut in the rate and criticised him for not arranging meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has stood in the way of a reduction.

But Ms Quinn -- the EU commissioner for research, innovation and funding, and a former Fianna Fail justice minister -- rejected the accusations.

"I wouldn't accept any allegation that the Taoiseach has taken his foot off the pedal as it were," she said at an EU funding launch in Dublin.

"In fact he has been incredibly strong, both at the European Council itself where all the heads of government are present, but also in the tours of the capital that both he and his ministers have undertaken. They have clearly underlined in a very firm and strong way that they need this reduction.

"From the very beginning, both Olli Rehn, my colleague, and President Barroso said Ireland deserved to have a reduction in the interest rate.

"The previous Taoiseach and this Taoiseach, together with the ministers, have done this tour of the European capitals.

"They have put that case very, very strongly and I know from President Barroso that Taoiseach Kenny has put it incredibly strongly at the European summit meetings themselves."

Ms Quinn also said she has "no doubt" Ireland will get the interest rate cut, but added: "When it's going to happen is the other question."

She said EU leaders "recognised that Ireland has made incredible efforts, that Portugal is now doing the same, that both newly elected Governments are committed to delivering on the package and on the adjustments that are necessary, painful as that is for all of the people".

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