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Government signals step back from seeking EU help on €64bn legacy bank debts

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Tanaiste Joan Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton

The Government today gave the strongest signal yet that they have abandoned the idea of seeking EU help on €64bn legacy bank debts which bedevil the taxpayer.

Tanaiste Joan Burton suggested other ways of dealing with the debt, which comes from the bank system collapse in autumn 2008, including selling off the taxpayer-owned Allied Irish Bank.

"There is more than one way to skin the cat, as they say. The sixth anniversary of the bank guarantee is coming up soon. Our strategy in year one will be different in year six," she told reporters at the start of a two-day think-in for Labour TDs and Senators in Wexford.

The Labour leader welcomed last weekend's deal on replacing International Monetary Fund borrowings with lower-interest money market loans - expected to save taxpayers €300m per year.

"At all times what we need to do is look at what eases our bank debt," Ms Burton added.

Ms Burton's predecessor Eamon Gilmore welcomed as "a game-changer" an EU leaders' summit promise in principle to help Ireland cope with legacy bank debt.

But since that promise was made in June 2012 nothing practical has happened.

PA Media