Belfast Telegraph

Kenny tight-lipped on debt talks

Enda Kenny has refused to reveal details of ongoing talks about Ireland's banking debts because he said they are too complex.

The Taoiseach would not confirm whether current discussions with European and IMF debt masters were about seeking a cut in the taxpayer-saddled Anglo Irish Bank debts or a request for more time to spread out the repayments.

"I'm not going to tell you the particular issues or the nature of the discussions that are taking place because these negotiations are far too sensitive and far too technical and very complex," said Mr Kenny.

However, he hinted that a longer period of time to repay the so-called promissory notes - a Government promise to pay the debts - would be particularly helpful.

"We've made it clear that a longer period of time at a lower interest rate would be of enormous importance to Ireland both in terms of our deficit and our capacity to pay back our debts," he said.

Negotiations are under way within the troika - the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank - to make adjustments to Ireland's repayment plans.

The country must pay a total 30.6 billion euro of promissory notes plus interest to the Central Bank on behalf of the former Anglo Irish Bank over the next 20 years. It is due to pay its next chunk of 3.1 billion euro on March 31 and opposition TDs have called for the Government to default on the loan deal.

However, Mr Kenny has continuously insisted Ireland should not be prepared to be labelled defaulters. He said: "This country has always met its commitments and in some cases we've exceeded those commitments."

Meanwhile, Independent TD Shane Ross slammed recent comments from European Commission vice president Olli Rehn, who ruled out a delay in Ireland's next due payment of 3.1 billion euro at the end of the month.

"When Commissioner Rehn was asked about the promissory notes he embarked on some kind of lecture," said Mr Ross. "I think the Taoiseach should be telling Commissioner Rehn that we are not given to taking lectures from him."

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