Greece close to euro oblivion... but Kenny given massive boost

Niall O'Connor

ALL EYES were on Greece today as political leaders made a desperate last-ditch effort to form a government.

The debt-ridden country's EU membership is now teetering on the brink -- with eurozone leaders braced for a possible Greek default.

Another general election now appears inevitable after Greece's second largest party snubbed today's 11th-hour talks.

The anti-austerity Syriza party has refused to attend the crisis meeting -- meaning a second general election is set to be called on Thursday.

The political stalemate has greatly raised the prospect of a Greek default -- putting all EU leaders on high alert that the country will leave the eurozone.

It emerged today that German chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn up detailed plans to cover the multi-billion euro clean-up costs if Greece is ejected from the single currency.

Meanwhile, Coalition sources here have admitted that the Government's hand has been "strengthened" by the news that a stimulus package is likely to accompany the Fiscal Treaty.

Enda Kenny said he was "absolutely" confident of striking a deal on a growth plan being agreed for Ireland -- a measure that would prove to be a great sweetener in the eyes of the electorate.

"It is no secret that we have been at this now for six months," the Taoiseach said.


Sources say a package for Ireland could see promises of significant job creation -- as a result of large-scale capital projects being put back on the table.

The Taoiseach will join other eurozone leaders on May 23 -- where he may be asked to spell out specific proposals that will make up Ireland's stimulus package.

A deal could see cash injections specifically for projects in the area of transport and communications -- and would prove to be a major boost for the Government's call for a Yes vote in the fiscal treaty referendum on May 31.

A growth package to accompany the Fiscal Treaty is set to take centre stage during talks tomorrow night between French President-elect Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

From Ireland's perspective, the stimulus package could see ministers giving the green light to large infrastructural projects that had been seen as unaffordable.

Government departments are now expected to draw up lists of capital projects which could create thousands of badly needed jobs being created.

See page 14 & 15