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Kenny under fire over debt talks

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected claims that the public's endorsement of the European fiscal treaty had failed to leverage an advantageous deal

Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected claims that the public's endorsement of the European fiscal treaty had failed to leverage an advantageous deal

Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected claims that the public's endorsement of the European fiscal treaty had failed to leverage an advantageous deal

The Taoiseach has come under fire for being too soft in negotiations with Europe on bank debt after Spain secured a 100 billion euro bailout.

Enda Kenny was forced to defend himself for "hoping against hope" that Ireland will get crumbs from the table and secure a write-down in debt.

He said the country was still locked in negotiations with its debt masters the Troika and rejected claims from the opposition that the public's endorsement of the European fiscal treaty has failed to leverage a deal.

"Ireland's position is to continue to negotiate complex issues with the Troika," said Mr Kenny. "From that perspective there is a clear strategy that is to continue to negotiate until we can reach an agreement."

The Taoiseach also welcomed comments from European Commissioner Olli Rehn yesterday, who insisted Europe will continue to stand by Ireland and work towards easing its debt burden.

The EU chief was responding to comments from MEP Gay Mitchell, who said Ireland should be rewarded for passing the fiscal treaty at the end of May.

"The IMF, the European Commission, head of the European Commission, Commissioner Rehn have all stated Ireland will continue to have support in the context of negotiations to reduce our problem," Mr Kenny went on.

"I'm happy to take Commissioner Rehn's strong and clear statement yesterday and the Government will follow that through to bring to a conclusion our objective to make sure our burden is reduced on the backs of the taxpayers."

Opposition TDs - Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald - said the Government needed to be more assertive in its interactions with Europe after so many of its funds were promised to a crippled Spain.

Mr Martin said the Spanish deal was bad for Ireland, while Ms McDonald argued it was evidence that the Taoiseach had failed to stand up for the state.

PA