Friday 24 November 2017

Ministers leave Rabbitte swinging over promissory note comments

Fiach Kelly

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has failed to back up Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte's claim that €3bn in Anglo Irish Bank debt will not be paid in March.

Mr Gilmore would only say he hoped a deal will be done by the payment deadline of March 31, but did not say it would not be paid.

Mr Rabbitte last week said the next repayment of €3.1bn for the Anglo Irish promissory notes would definitely not be made.

But ministers have since distanced themselves from Mr Rabbitte's position, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin also failing to back up their colleague.

Mr Rabbitte last week said: "We didn't pay the promissory note this year and as far as I am concerned we are not going to pay it next year. It's as simple as that."

It has led to reportedly angry Cabinet exchanges between Mr Rabbitte and Finance Minister Noonan.

Mr Noonan reportedly told Mr Rabbitte the issue of the bank debt was "none of your business", with Mr Rabbitte maintaining the issue is "fundamental to the future of the Government".

Mr Gilmore insisted: "This Government is united and determined that we will find a resolution to the bank debt difficulty that the previous Government landed us with."

But Mr Gilmore was pressed twice on 'This Week' on RTE Radio whether he agreed with Mr Rabbitte's stance that "we are not going to pay it next year".

He would only say: "We're determined that we will have a resolution of the promissory note issue by the time it is due."

At an EU summit in Brussels, Mr Kenny also failed to back up Mr Rabbitte.

"Government policy is that, in respect of the promissory note, we want to re-engineer this in such a way we won't have to pay €3.1bn in March," he said.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin also said there was "no row" between Mr Rabbitte and Mr Noonan.

"There is no row because . . . everyone in the country has a vested interest in ensuring that we get a deal on the prom note," Mr Howlin said.

Irish Independent

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