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After opening a Penneys, Enda Kenny spoke to his 'good friend' Angela Merkel about bank debt

The Taoiseach also spoke at an economic conference on his whistle-stop tour of Berlin today.

Angela Merkel and Enda Kenny in Dublin earlier this year
Angela Merkel and Enda Kenny in Dublin earlier this year
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY discussed Ireland’s bank-related debt with his “good friend” German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin today.

Speaking to an audience from the German business community at the Wirtschaftsrat Economic Conference in the capital, Kenny said: “Ensuring the sustainability of Ireland’s economy remains as important as ever – the Chancellor and I discussed this again this afternoon, including in relation to Ireland’s banking-related debt.”

Kenny said assistance from Ireland’s European partners would eventually deliver for those partners in return and noted that the country’s economic recovery remains “fragile”.

The coalition has been pushing for retroactive recapitalisation of its banking system in the wake of a historic EU deal – hailed as a “game changer” – in June 2012 to break the link between sovereign and bank debt.

Any retrospective deal for Ireland, which ploughed €64 billion into its banking sector after the 2008 guarantee, is contingent on the establishment of a banking union but several senior EU figures have suggested any deal is unlikely.

In his speech today Kenny sought to woo a crowd of “job-creators, innovators, exporters across the world”, noting that Ireland has “many business relationships” with Germany and citing the fact that the Volkswagen is currently the best-selling car in Ireland.

He said: “Already, therefore, Germany and Ireland have a real partnership, a win-win one between our two economies. Almost €11 billion in goods are exchanged between us annually, along with a further €11 billion in services. And we can do even better, with your help.”

He told the audience about the “recent story of Ireland” and said that the turnaround continues “to reduce that remaining fragility”.

“A story of a serious economic disaster with massive consequences for the Irish people. A story which for a time could have had serious implications for the euro. And a story which ultimately involved the Irish people responding themselves decisively, quickly and through radical action and reform.”

He praised the decision of German bank KfW to back the establishment of the new Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland which will lend to small and medium enterprises in Ireland.

Kenny said definitively that Ireland will reach its 3 per cent deficit to GDP ratio target next year and get rid of the deficit altogether by 2018.

He also reiterated the target of “eliminating unemployment” by 2020.

Earlier: Our Enda is a bit of a superstar in Germany

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Hugh O'Connell

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