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Junior Minister: Bank debt deal negotiations best done in private

Brian Hayes said that outlining Ireland’s negotiating position in public would not be “very clever from the country’s perspective.

Junior finance minister Brian Hayes
Junior finance minister Brian Hayes
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

JUNIOR FINANCE MINISTER Brian Hayes has said that negotiations on addressing Ireland’s legacy debt are best done in private.

Hayes was responding to quotes attributed to a German government spokesperson yesterday that Ireland did not enjoy ‘special status’ when it came to bank debt which appeared to partly contradict a joint statement from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday.

The Minister of State said that the debate on whether or not Ireland would get a deal to reduce the burden of its €64 billion bank bailout debt had reached “farcical proportions” and said that the country needed to concentrate on what was said in the joint statement at the weekend.

He told TheJournal.ie: “I just think now is the time where we continue to negotiate and it’s better that these are done, effectively, behind closed doors.”

In a significant statement issued at the weekend Merkel and Kenny acknowledged that Ireland “is a special case” with regards to the sustainability of its bailout and the June 29 statement from EU leaders which committed to breaking the link between banking and sovereign debt.

Merkel had on Friday appeared to rule out retroactive use of the European Stability Mechanism – the eurozone’s bailout fund – to capitalise banks in Ireland or anywhere, but she was responding specifically to a question about Spain.

‘A silly thing to do’

Yesterday, the Taoiseach got a further boost from French president Francois Hollande who also acknowledged that Ireland was “a special case” and Hayes said there was now “a job of work to be done” with regards to negotiating a more sustainable position on Ireland’s debt.

“We should only be judged at the end of the process, not in the middle of it,” he said.

“And we should really just be getting on with that task and not spending huge amounts of time responding to every single thing that is said from some spokesperson or another.”

Hayes would not comment on any specifics with regard to Ireland’s favoured position in its negotiations and reiterated the need for such negotiations to remain private.

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“We’re not saying publicly what we’re backing at the moment, that would be a silly thing to do in advance of the negotiations,” he said.

The Fine Gael TD went on to say: “I can understand why people are frustrated that we cannot, on a daily basis, go through a negotiation.

“But when you’re negotiating it’s best done in private I would have thought, because once that position is known in public that becomes your default position and that’s not very clever from the country’s perspective.”

Yesterday: French president Hollande: Ireland’s bailout is ‘a special case’

Read: Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin call for clarification of Merkel and Kenny communiqué

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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