TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has shrugged off the impact of last night’s statement from the finance ministers of Finland, the Netherlands and Germany – who appeared to rule out the prospect of European help in a revised bailout of Ireland’s banking sector.
Kenny told the Dáil that the statement was one merely of three finance ministers, and did not trump or undo the policy reached by the 27 European heads of government in June when they agreed to break the link between banking and sovereign debts.
“The decision taken on the 29th of June was clear, is clear, and articulates very clearly what the decision of the heads of government actually is,” Kenny said, adding: “Those are the decisions, without any equivocation.
“As far as I am concerned… we want to see the clear decision and mandate given by the European Council implemented. And that’s where the focus and direction of our negotiations will be.”
Kenny faced criticism from all three opposition groups in the Dáil this morning on the matter, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accusing Kenny of failing to follow through on the June agreement, and insisting that Kenny’s interpretation of the June statement differed from those of other countries.
“This is not a decision of just three ministers,” the Taoiseach responded, referring to the June deal. “This is a decision made by the heads of government of the 27 countries of the European Union.”
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the Taoiseach’s approach had been “all smoke and mirrors” – adding that the government had “cornered the market on misery”.
“Each of the ministers aren’t equal and the fact of the matter – you know it full well – is that when you have a joint statement from those three finance ministers, it is a very significant thing,” McDonald said.
June decision ‘still European policy’
The Taoiseach insisted that the decision of June 29 – in which ministers specifically referenced the possibility of improving the sustainability of Ireland’s debts – remained the formal policy of the European Council and “will be implemented”.
Kenny also told Shane Ross, speaking for the technical group, that Ireland was not given any prior notice about the statement being issued by the three ministers, whose countries are among the few AAA-rated members of the eurozone.
“You’re aware of the municipal elections in Finland, you’re aware that a government is not yet formed in the Netherlands,” Kenny told Ross, saying German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble had given strong assistance to Michael Noonan in European discussions on Ireland’s promissory notes.
Ross said Kenny was unfairly playing down the statement, quoting reports from Reuters who said Ireland could “remain saddled with vast amounts of debt” which would make it harder to rescue the national economy.
“There is no resiling and no going back from the clarity of the decision to break the link” between sovereigns and banks, Kenny however affirmed.
The Taoiseach did not answer queries from both McDonald and Ross asking why the Department of Finance had last night “welcomed” the trilateral statement, which both said had done harm to Ireland’s chances of a financial rescue.