News Irish News

Monday 19 March 2018

Kenny to push for bank debt deal during EU meeting

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Most of the cabinet will fly out to Brussels today to make preparations for Ireland's presidency of the EU.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will also bring up the status of Ireland's bank debt deal today when he meets with EU chiefs in Brussels.

The delay in striking the deal on reducing the debt burden threatens to cast a shadow over Ireland's EU presidency, which begins on January 1 next.

The Taoiseach and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will travel with nine other ministers for meetings with all the European Commissioners, including President Jose-Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

On the advice of the Department of Defence, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste won't be travelling together for security reasons. Mr Kenny will travel on commercial airline this morning and return on the government jet tomorrow evening. Mr Gilmore will travel out on the jet, returning on a commercial aircraft.

The rest of the ministers will travel by a mix of jet and commercial planes.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn will take Leader's Questions in the Dail in the absence of the Taoiseach, on the basis that he is the most senior minister left behind. But the Government says it's not a case of someone at home being left in charge -- modern technology does not require the transfer of executive powers -- and all the ministers are over and back on the same day. The meeting is part of the preparations for Ireland's six-month rotating EU presidency.

The Taoiseach and Tanaiste will be accompanied by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton.


Although there isn't a formal way to raise the debt deal on the agenda, Mr Kenny said he would bring up the issue.

He said the EU Summit at the end of June decided to break the link between sovereign and bank debt, that Ireland's debt sustainability issue would be looked at and that this country would get equal treatment.

Mr Kenny said European Commissioner Olli Rehn had been very supportive and would like to see those negotiations completed by the end of October. "I do not think that is feasible, but what I am interested in, and what the Minister for Finance is taking very skillfully down the line, is getting the best deal for the Irish people . . . in this regard.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News