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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Hayes hints that we'll 'go it alone' after exiting bailout

Brian Hayes: clean exit
Brian Hayes: clean exit
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

JUNIOR Finance Minister Brain Hayes has given the strongest signal yet that Ireland may go it alone after the country leaves the bailout programme.

He said that the Government may be eying up a compromise deal that would see Ireland getting away with committing to look at a so-called precautionary credit line without actually putting one in place.

Briefing the international press in Brussels, Mr Hayes said it was important to show that Ireland was not attached to an overdraft facility with more conditions being imposed on the country.

"It is important that if you're back to the markets, you're back to the markets," Mr Hayes said.

"It is important for everyone to see that the country is not lingering with some kind of additional programme with additional conditionality."

Mr Hayes said at the weekend that a clean exit would make Ireland more attractive to foreign investment.

The Government has been weighing up whether to apply for an overdraft facility. But it is ultimately expected to announce that it is exiting the bailout without a safety net.

It comes as ratings agency Standard & Poor's said the markets were not overly concerned one way or the other.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is travelling to Brussels today for a two-day meeting of European finance ministers.

Mr Noonan told the Oireachtas Finance Committee yesterday that Ireland's exit from the bailout was not on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting of all European finance ministers, but it would be discussed on the margins of a meeting of eurozone ministers this afternoon.

However, he said he was still reflecting on whether to apply for an overdraft facility. "There's a window now where things are calm internationally, and the interest rate reduction announced last week by the European Central Bank reflects back into interest rates in general," he said.

"We seem to be in rather a benign window. If we had a precautionary window, we would have this decision next year. I can't predict what things will be like next December. What's the best advantage to Ireland?"

It comes as Germany said Ireland was a "positive success story", with a spokesman for the finance ministry in Berlin yesterday pointing out that the economy was growing.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that Germany and Finland has made it clear that they don't want Ireland to apply for a credit line.

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