Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Kenny confident on bank debt deal

Enda Kenny is to meet Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has restated his confidence in striking a deal on Ireland's bad Anglo bank debt.

Days before travelling to Brussels for talks with European chiefs, he said negotiations on restructuring the promissory note repayments were technical and complex.

But he insisted he was hopeful a solution could be reached before the end of the March deadline for the next 3.1 billion euro payment.

"We've always been very clear about this. A deal on the promissory note would greatly ease our capacity to meet our debts and also ease our exit from the programme we are in," Mr Kenny said. "We are confident that we will achieve the deal and an agreement on this by the end date in March, which is the next payment date. Clearly this is an important issue for Ireland."

The Taoiseach will travel to Brussels on Monday to meet European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament. Discussions are expected to focus on the seven-year European budget and restructuring Ireland's promissory note.

The 30.6 billion euro promissory note - a high-interest IOU - was secured from the European Central Bank by the last Government to recapitalise the failed former Anglo Irish Bank, now called the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

The Government hopes to have the 10-year promissory note extended to reduce the annual 3.1 billion euro repayments - the next of which is due on March 31. "We continue to negotiate and discuss these issues which are technical, which are complex and we will do that by the end of March," Mr Kenny said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said securing a deal on the promissory note and job creation were all steps towards getting Ireland back on its feet. "Generation of employment and growth of our economy is part of it," Mr Gilmore said. "All of these are elements of the strategy to bring about economic recovery."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has argued that the Government should seek a write-down of the promissory note - not an extension in its repayments. Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the Irish people should not be saddled with the outstanding 28 billion euro debt. "People want to be assured when they are paying their property tax, or septic tank charges, or increased PRSI, or whatever other taxes they are paying, that it is not going into the black hole of the Anglo Irish Bank," Mr Doherty said.

Sinn Fein met debt masters the Troika - the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission - during its latest visit to Ireland. Mr Doherty said they discussed whether the mood in Europe had changed regarding Ireland's bid for a deal on the promissory note.

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