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Enda Kenny refuses to say what he and Merkel spoke about

Germany has indicated it is not interested in a bank debt deal for Ireland – despite the Government lobbying hard for one after the referendum.

Six Fianna Fáil TDs laughing during Leaders' Questions
Six Fianna Fáil TDs laughing during Leaders' Questions

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has refused to tell the Dáil exactly what he and German leader Angela Merkel spoke about in a telephone conversation after the results of the referendum last week.

In heated exchanges in the Dáil this morning, the Taoiseach was asked a number of times what the Chancellor had said about a possible bank debt deal for Ireland following the Yes vote in last week’s Fiscal Compact referendum.

The Taoiseach’s refusal to go into detail about the conversation comes in the wake of comments by the office of the German finance minister indicating that Germany is not interested in negotiating any kind of deal for Ireland. The government has repeatedly said that it wants a deal to reduce the debt. As recently as Sunday, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore had said that high-level discussions were already taking place and that the government is committed to securing a deal.

The Taoiseach was asked by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin whether he had requested a write-down in Irish bank debt or a restructuring of the debt and exactly what had been said.

“The feedback from the conversation does not seem positive,” Martin told the Dáil.

Enda Kenny said Chancellor Merkel had praised the ‘very strong, very clear, very decisive decision’ by Irish people in the referendum but did not go into detail. The Taoiseach reiterated that the bank debt situation is a separate issue from the referendum.

“Believe you me, this is a tortuous and complex process and there are no quick fix solutions,” the Taoiseach said.

He told the Fianna Fáil leader that he was mistaken if he thought something as complex as debt negotiations could be sorted out ‘by words over a telephone’.

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Enda Kenny told the Dáil that he had been one of the first European leaders to raise the possibility of using the ESM to inject cash directly into banking, an idea which he said is now gaining traction with other leaders.

“Europe is now having a proper debate about the separation of the sovereign debts from bank debts,” he said.

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