Sunday 21 January 2018

Opposition rounds on Government over 'sell out'

Fiach Kelly

THE EU-IMF deal is a national sell out and a terrible deal which has left the country "banjaxed", the opposition claimed last night.

Fine Gael's finance spokesman Michael Noonan described it as "a hugely disappointing result for the country" and said the Government had been "out-bid and out-negotiated at every turn".

"It's hard to imagine how this deal could have been much worse," Mr Noonan said. "People are right to feel frightened and worried about the future when our own Government has sold out the country on such lousy terms.

"The Government was cleaned out in the negotiations and has not acted in the best interests of Ireland. At the very least we could have expected a low rate of interest on the loans, EU agreement on a jobs and growth package, and agreement to share the cost of rescuing the banks with the bond holders. The Government came away with none of these.

"As a sovereign State and a fully paid-up member of the eurozone, Ireland could have struck a much better bargain. The fact that the EU and ECB have asked us to bail out foreign bond investors who invested foolishly in our banks, with the pension fund money accumulated with difficulty over many years, should have been used as a powerful bargaining chip. It clearly was not."


Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the deal would leave the "citizens of this country with a crippling level of debt for years to come".

Mr Gilmore said the majority of the international bondholders were "required to make no contribution at all".

He also accused Fianna Fail of showing "no backbone, no negotiating ability and no authority".

"The rate of interest accepted by Fianna Fail is penal and is significantly in excess of the rate that Greece was required to pay," Mr Gilmore said.

"The National Pension Reserve Fund is effectively to be cleaned out and the contents handed over for the benefit of the banks.

"If ever we wanted confirmation that the Lenihan bank guarantee of September 2008 was the biggest misjudgment in the history of the State, then this sorry deal provides it," Mr Gilmore added.

Joan Burton, Labour's finance spokeswoman, said the "trap has closed on Ireland and we are banjaxed" and said the EU and IMF had Ireland "where they wanted us".

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams described the bailout as a "terrible deal".

"The decision to force the state to take €17.5bn out of the Pensions Reserve Fund to pour into the black hole that is our banking system is a disaster. The decision to protect bondholders is disgraceful."

Irish Independent

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