Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Troika chiefs 'bagmen' for banks

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is expected to set out the troika's assessment of Ireland's bailout programme at the end of the week

The leader of one of the country's biggest trade unions has branded the troika chiefs "bagmen" for European banks.

Siptu president Jack O'Connor said it was pointless for Congress members to continue to hold talks with the delegation during reviews of the Irish bailout.

"These meetings serve no useful purpose whatsoever. Indeed, their only motivation is quite clearly to provide some veneer of consultation," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that these people are simply bagmen for the big European banks who are not interested in hearing any alternatives to their wage devaluation strategy."

The troika delegation from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union (EU) and European Central Bank are to complete their latest review of the 85 billion euro bailout programme later this week.

A member of the group, EU representative Istvan Szekely, questioned in one round of contacts whether Ireland needs large-scale infrastructure projects at present. He made the assertion as Congress chiefs continue to press for a jobs and growth strategy in the bailout programme.

"It is one thing to hold a view, however flawed, that short-term pain might result in long-term gain, but it is quite another to insist on continuing with it when it is patently obvious that it's not working," Mr O'Connor said.

"Thus far, the only result from several meetings that Congress has participated in with the troika is the rubbishing of well thought-out proposals that impede its agenda which can be summed up as 'there is no alternative'."

Mr O'Connor said he would put a motion before the Congress executive on Wednesday calling for an end to meetings with the troika. "It is time to abandon the failed one-sided austerity policy and focus on a strategy to create jobs and growth," he said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, are expected to set out the troika's assessment of Ireland's bailout programme at the end of the week. Its main concerns are said to be the failure to hit budget targets in the health sector, the mortgage arrears crisis and the need to complete wider banking reform.

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