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Joy for Enda as French back our bank-debt deal

IRELAND is apparently "a special case", when it comes to bank debt - at least in the eyes of our European counterparts.

Following a torrid weekend of uncertainty, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is smiling today after France and Germany indicated their support for a bank-debt deal.

It came after French President Francois Hollande echoed the stance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel by recognising Ireland's special case status.

Mr Kenny met with Mr Hollande in Paris in the wake of a clarification from Chancellor Merkel over Ireland's so-called legacy debt.

Burden

The German leader said there were "unique circumstances" behind our banking crisis, adding that measures to ease the financial burden on Irish taxpayers would be examined.

Now, Mr Hollande has supported Mr Kenny's concerted efforts for an easing of the debt.

"Ireland is a specific case and deserves to be seen as such," he said.

But what no one has yet been able to explain is how exactly Ireland is a "special case" and what exactly this means for our mammoth €64bn of bank debt.

Comments by Dr Merkel following the Brussels summit had led to fears Ireland's campaign for relief was a non-runner.

She had indicated legacy debt would not be included in any moves to directly recapitalise banks across Europe.

But in a subsequent joint statement with Mr Kenny, Dr Merkel recognised our special status, prompting speculation that a deal was back on.

Mr Hollande spoke to the press following a 50-minute meeting with the Taoiseach at the Elysee Palace in Paris. He offered strong support for the Government's position and said legacy debt should be included in the deal.

"What has been agreed upon in June will be implemented. The (Irish) banks have been recapitalised already and this was done through the budget and it increased the debt of Ireland so this will have to be taken into account by the Eurogroup," he said.

Mr Kenny said he was "very happy" after his first official meeting with Mr Hollande, who was elected in May. It is four years since an Irish taoiseach of any description paid an official visit to Paris.

hnews@herald.ie


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