Monday 19 February 2018

We will get a deal on banks, insists Enda Kenny

Barroso attack a betrayal, says opposition TD

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at a European Union leaders’ summit at in Brussels. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives at a European Union leaders’ summit at in Brussels. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor Brussels

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is insisting the government bid to get back-dated funding for the cost of the banking bailout is still on, despite an unprecedented attack on Ireland by the EU's top official.

Mr Kenny said there was "no row" with European Commission president Jose-Manuel Barroso, who claimed the euro currency was a "victim" of the problems caused by Ireland.

Mr Kenny said the Government was still pursuing the retrospective recapitalisation of the banking system.

He said the EU decision of 18 months ago to treat Ireland as a special case still stood.

"There isn't any row here," he said.

"There is no difference of opinion in respect of the decision of the 29th of June," he added.

BLUNT

But the Taoiseach said it was too early to say what the Government would be looking for from the EU when the recapitalisation question came about.

He said he had never said anything about selling the banking assets to the bailout fund.

The Government claimed there was a misunderstanding around Mr Barroso's comments and he was not referring to the possibility of retrospective recapitalisation.

But Mr Barroso's remarks were criticised by the Opposition.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath described the comments as a "betrayal" of previous commitments that have been made by EU leaders that Ireland would be treated as a special case.

"President Barroso's blunt comments about Ireland are not open to misinterpretation.

"He has essentially shut the door on any European Commission support for a deal on retroactive bank recapitalisation for Ireland," Mr McGrath said.

The Taoiseach said the decision made by EU leaders on the possibility of the new EU bailout funds assisting Irish banks remained in place.

"We regard it as entirely wrong the Irish taxpayer should have to pay the bailout of the banks," he said.

Mr Kenny does not accept there was a widely held view in Europe that Ireland should not be assisted.

He pointed out that the EU leaders had decided Ireland was a special case.

Mr Kenny would not confirm suggestions the Government told Mr Barroso and fellow European Commissioner Olli Rehn not to come to Dublin.

But he did hint this was the case -- he maintained the Government wanted to ensure there were no expectations heightened and the matter would be kept "low key".

He said he was not in favour of "undue hype" over the bailout exit.

"We did not want undue expectations heightened," he said.

Mr Barroso said at the EU summit that Europe did not cause the problems for Ireland; Ireland caused a problem for Europe.

He blamed the Irish banks, regulators and government for the difficulties in the country and the rejected suggestions Ireland should now be helped by Europe.

Irish Independent

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