Belfast Telegraph

Gilmore bids to alter bailout terms

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is launching a diplomatic charm offensive to win support for a new deal on bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe.

The Foreign Affairs Minister will kick-start the mission this week with a series of briefings for ambassadors before holding face-to-face talks with his counterparts.

Embassies across the continent have also been ordered to get the message out that Ireland is taking dramatic steps to rebuild its banking sector.

"One of the things that has certainly come to my attention since I have been Minister for Foreign Affairs is the degree to which Ireland has lost political support in Europe," the Tanaiste said.

Mr Gilmore said he accepted that "the shine" has gone off Ireland.

"There will be a co-ordinated diplomatic drive by Ireland to win political support for the discussions we are having with the European Central Bank and the European Union (EU)," the Tanaiste said.

"To date one of the things we have discovered is the lack of that political support, the degree to which Ireland has lost its place and lost its respect and lost the kind of support and solidarity that we used to enjoy in the EU."

Mr Gilmore said the new Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government is going to "put that right".

The diplomatic offensive begins this week as a delegation from the IMF returns to check Ireland's progress under the terms of last autumn's 85 billion euro bailout loan deal.

The Government has been under fire since the final bank bailout bill was unveiled last Thursday as 70 billion euro. The opposition claims the coalition has reneged on election commitments to force a cut in interest rates for IMF-EU money. The accusations have been flatly rejected by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, and also the Tanaiste.

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