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Ministers work on Croke Park 'squeeze' proposals

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday insisted ministers will provide proposals for further public sector savings under the Croke Park agreement "this week".

Mr Kenny was speaking in Rome after meeting Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

He said Italy supported the restructuring of Ireland's bank debt as agreed by EU leaders in June -- but was also questioned on yesterday's ESRI report which said that further cuts in public expenditure were required.

He emphasised that December's Budget "will be the most challenging of this Government's remit".

"That's why I've asked every minister to bring in their conclusions this week in regard to what can be squeezed as a maximum out of Croke Park."

Mr Kenny has said he will discuss his ministers' analysis with the Croke Park agreement implementation body, after he has assessed it with Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

Mr Kenny held an hour-long meeting with Mr Monti at the Palazzo Chigi yesterday as part of a two-day visit to Rome.

"We discussed the importance of Europe being decisive and acting as quickly as possible in regard to the decisions made on June 28 and 29, with particular reference to the banking union and the supervisory role," he said, but added that the autumn deadline for a deal was unlikely to be met.

An Italian government statement released after the meeting echoed the Taoiseach's comments: "President Monti has expressed strong appreciation for the progress made by Ireland in recent months that has allowed the return of the Irish Government on the borrowing market in July."

The Taoiseach confirmed that negotiations on a deal were ongoing on an "intensive level" in advance of the next EU summit on October 18 and 19.

However, indications may emerge as to how these negotiations are progressing at a meeting of the European Central Bank in Ljubljana on October 4 and the Eurogroup summit of finance ministers in Luxembourg on October 8 and 9.

The Taoiseach is in Rome for a meeting of the Centrist Democrats International (CDI) group hosted by Mr Monti.

Mr Monti also held one-on-one talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Kenny stressed that the implementation of the June decision to break the link between bank debt and sovereign debt is of "paramount importance".

Irish Independent