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Coalition deal gets tentative welcome from international press

Fine Gael-Labour programme described as pragmatic – while Michael Noonan gets a personal boost for his “witty quips in parliamentary debates”…

Happy families: The international press seems reassured by the coalition deal
Happy families: The international press seems reassured by the coalition deal
Image: PA Images/Niall Carson

PRAGMATIC, POSITIVE AND open to compromise – the international press coverage of Labour and Fine Gael’s coalition deal provides some cool comfort for Irish voters this morning.

The Wall Street Journal said that the coalition was “signalling a pragmatic course on bank-bond debts” in upcoming negotiations with fellow eurozone leaders. The paper reports:

Analysts say the new coalition agreement is notable for its pragmatism and absence of campaign rhetoric on burning bank-bond holders.

Sky News online reports the pledges made by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore in relatively strong and positive terms, saying they have promised to “demand” a renegotiation of the EU/IMF deal and that Kenny “vowed” to “hit the ground running” to pull the country back from the economic brink.

The Guardian newspaper speaks in more tentative terms, reporting the “compromise” that has been reached between Fine Gael and Labour to enable them to enter into government together. The paper described the parties as “inching closer over the weekend”.

Chinese news agency Xinhua similarly focuses on the “complex” nature of the talks to agree on a programme of government, “with the parties at odds over the length of time it will take to turn around the budget deficit, tax, public sector cuts, water charges and how to tackle bondholder responsibility for banking debts”.

Some of the results of those “complex” talks, as listed in the programme for government, were highlighted by The Scotsman. The newspaper said that the most “eye-catching proposals” included the break-up of the Department of Finance into two sections, one to deal with public expenditure and the other with public sector reform. The newspaper also noted “the establishment of an economic council within government to demand a renegotiaion of November’s €85bn bailout.

The German journalists at Deutsche Welle cast a critical eye over the coalition pledges on the EU/IMF deal:

They may succeed in securing a reduced interest rate on the loans provided, but their demands for bondholders in Irish banks to take on some of the losses look set to fall flat. Kenny acknowledged on Friday that many EU governments opposed this suggestion, saying that one leader told him there would be ‘no free lunches’.

Reuters news agency is so sure that Michael Noonan is likely to be finance minister that it created a fact box about him for readers.  It ends the brief biographical piece with:

A former English teacher, Noonan is renowned for his witty quips in parliamentary debates.

Read the main points of the Labour-Fine Gael draft programme for government>

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