Butt out, Noonan tells IMF, German leaders

Kevin Doyle

MICHAEL Noonan has complained to the IMF and the German government over their perceived interference in Irish affairs.

In a highly usual move, the Finance Minister has demanded that both keep their nose out of economic policy -- at least until after the fiscal treaty referendum.

The Herald understands that Mr Noonan was furious with comments made by the International Monetary Fund to a Sunday newspaper as they "muddied the waters" over future bailouts.

A key argument in the Government's 'yes' campaign for the referendum was that we need to pass the treaty in order to access future bailout funds.

But that theory has now been called into question, with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore admitting that we could still apply to the IMF for cash, albeit that there is no certainty they would agree a deal on favourable terms.

Mr Noonan has also contacted officials in Germany to complain about a series of leaks that emerged in that country's parliament.

Concerns

He is believed to have warned German authorities to stop discussing documentation relating directly to Ireland in open parliament.

EU commissioner Olli Rehn has also been made aware of the concerns of the Fine Gael-Labour Cabinet.

In February, a sensitive European Commission document on the Irish economy was released to the Bundestag.

The document -- Economic Adjustment Programme for Ireland: Winter 2011 Review -- outlined plans for the Government to buy Irish Life.

It also revealed that the Troika was seeking a more ambitious sale of State assets and floated the idea of a mini-budget in the autumn.

The leak followed a similar one last November which correctly revealed that the Government intended to hike VAT to 23pc in the Budget that took place just weeks later. Government officials have now formally raised the issue in Germany as a matter of grave concern.

They pointed out that the coming weeks are very sensitive for the Irish voters and any further leaks could influence the outcome of the referendum. Reports today also suggest that Mr Noonan has now given a similar warning to the IMF.

kdoyle@herald.ie