Thursday 22 February 2018

Europe must shoulder some of the blame, too

This weekend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny can congratulate himself on getting through his first EU leaders summit unscathed and without compromising any of Ireland's vital national interests. However, the problems that he must deal with at a European level have been merely postponed rather than resolved.

On Thursday, the results of the bank stress tests will be published. These are likely to reveal that the loan losses of the Irish banks, particularly residential mortgages, are much higher than previously feared. The need to pump tens of billions of fresh capital into the Irish banks once again raises the question of who should pick up the tab for the enormous losses of the Irish banks.

These losses are now likely to exceed €100bn. If the Irish taxpayer is left to foot the entire bill it will cripple the economy for a generation or more. Such an outcome is, as Finance Minister Michael Noonan has ever-so politely warned, not sustainable. Europe must be prepared to shoulder some of the burden.

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