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You're ripping us off, Noonan tells EU chiefs

MICHAEL Noonan has told EU leaders that they are ripping Ireland off with unfair interest rates on the bailout.

Fine Gael's finance spokesman warned that pressure from countries like Germany could stifle our recovery -- and cost everyone more in the long run.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Noonan said a new government would demand a cut in the interest it pays on the European Union portion of the €85bn bailout agreed in November. "We're pointing out to colleagues in Europe that if you keep forcing such an expensive solution on to Ireland, despite our best efforts, we may not be able to make it," he said.

Of the €85bn loan secured by the Government, Ireland will receive €17.7bn from the new European Financial Stability Fund and a further €22.5bn from a separate EU bailout fund.

The Limerick TD also said Fine Gael would look for a reduction in the debts owed by Irish banks to senior bondholders. The final instalment comes from the IMF, which has offered Ireland a lesser rate of interest than the EU institutions.

Germany has been particularly unsympathetic to our cause, with Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting Ireland pay substantially more on its EU loans than it will on its IMF loans.


A possible reduction in the rate is to be discussed at a summit of EU leaders on February 4 which will be attended by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

Depending on the election result, Mr Noonan could be in charge of the country's coffers before a subsequent meeting in March.

Today he said that Ireland is "paying too much" on the money from the EFSF.

However, he attempted to reassure EU countries by stating that Ireland "is not going to default on anything".

"Ireland pays its way. That's the first principle with Fine Gael in government."

His comments came as the Finance Bill continued to wind its way through the Dail before being passed on to the Seanad for finalising on Saturday.