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Government urged to follow Spain's lead in EU budget talks

Meanwhile, Olli Rehn dashes any hopes of avoiding paying the €3.1 bn promissory note due on 31 March.

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Image: Virginia Mayo/AP/Press Association Images

FOLLOWING AN EU decision to allow Spain make less budget cuts than planned during 2012, the Government has been criticised for not asking European authorities for similar concessions.

Speaking after a European finance ministers meeting today, Michael Noonan said that Spain is “not comparable to Ireland” because the country is not in a programme.

Rules and conditions on bailout programme countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been negotiated and set down, said Noonan, adding that Spain’s targets for 2013 have actually not changed.

Despite that explanation, Sinn Féin has called on the Taoiseach to take a lead from the Spanish prime minister and “stand up for Irish interests” in negotiations with the European Central Bank.

Earlier, during Leaders’ Questions, Enda Kenny echoed his Finance Minister. He told Adams that Ireland could not follow the example of Spain and win eurozone concessions on the scale of its Budget cutbacks, as Spain was not subject to a bailout like Ireland was.

Adams also urged Kenny to declare the State’s inability to pay the €3.1 billion Anglo Irish Bank promissory note payment due on 31 March.

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner Olli Rehn has dashed any hopes that Ireland may not have to fulfil that repayment by the end of the month.

He told a press conference that Ireland must respect its commitments and obligations as any EU members state is required to.

However, Adams has argued that such traditions were “never applied to France and Germany” who he claims have both regularly breached stability and growth rules.

“It is clear that for Mr Rehn there is one rule for the Irish and another for everyone else,” the Sinn Féin leader said in a statement tonight.

Earlier: Spain wins budget concessions from Eurogroup – but more austerity will follow>

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