Noonan sticks to his guns on getting debt deal by deadline
Finance Minister Michael Noonan is still insisting the Government will strike a deal on the repayment of the Anglo Irish Bank debt.
Mr Noonan said it was "very likely" a deal would be in place to allow a restructuring of the promissory notes repayments.
However, he warned talks with the European Central Bank (ECB) were now at a critical phase and it would be "premature" to comment on specifics of the proposed deal.
The next repayment of the €3.1bn is due at the end of March, but Mr Noonan is still holding out for a deal to be done by that deadline.
"Because it is likely there will be a deal, there won't be a payment made. That is the context," he said.
Speaking in Charleville, Co Cork, Mr Noonan said he believed a deal would be struck with the ECB to allow the next promissory note repayment to be rescheduled.
"The position with the promissory note is that there are ongoing negotiations.
"I am about at the stage in the negotiations that I expected I would be at coming into Christmas.
"We have to get a good result," he told the Irish Independent.
"This is ongoing and the promissory note instalment for 2013 doesn't have to be paid until the last day in March – this is only the first of February so there is a long way to go yet."
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte ruled out the March promissory note payment last December, but Mr Noonan said he was taken out of context.
"I think the context he (Mr Rabbitte) was speaking in was he, like myself, he was saying it was likely there will be a deal.
"Because it is likely there will be a deal, there won't be a payment made.
"That is the context," Mr Noonan said.
Again, he refused to be drawn on reports the ECB flatly rejected a proposal to extend the repayments over a 40-year timeframe with a shorter 20- to 30-year timeframe now likely.
Mr Noonan offered no commitment of an easing of the next Budget if the promissory note payment didn't have to be made.
He was jeered by anti-bailout protesters yesterday as he arrived at the Charleville business conference. Eight protesters shouted 'Judas' at Mr Noonan as he entered the conference hotel.
One protester, who would only give his name as Denis, said Ireland's economy was being wrecked to deliver massive profits for international banks and speculators.
Mr Noonan also flatly rejected the suggestion that Ireland should have followed Iceland's economic policy.
"Iceland had no victory. Iceland is not in the eurozone and is entirely a different case. The savings of most Icelandic citizens were wiped out.
"The mantra here of 'burn the bondholders', well, when that was applied in Iceland it was burn the deposit holders. People lost their savings.
"Their situation is entirely different and it has nothing to do with us," he said.