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Kenny: Ireland has 'number of options' to further reduce bailout bill

Enda Kenny says Ireland can still reduce the interest on its bailouts, amid questions on why Greece is getting a haircut and Ireland isn’t.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has told the Dáil that Ireland still has “a number of options” to hand which could further reduce the price of its €67.5bn EU-IMF bailout.

The Taoiseach said the “discussions and negotiations” being conducted by himself and the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, were focussed on reducing the overall cost of the economic situation Ireland had found himself in.

Kenny was responding to barbs from the opposition benches who had attacked the government for apparently agreeing to a European arrangement where Greece will default on up to 60 per cent of its loans.

The opposition accused the government of priotising the European debt crisis over the country’s own affairs, saying Greece was being allowed to default on a massive portion of its loans while Ireland was not getting any such provision.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams had both attacked Kenny for apparently failing to secure any concessions on the bill for bailing out Ireland’s banks – which has come to public attention in advance of a repayment of Anglo Irish Bank’s bonds in November.

That repayment, due in eight days time, will see the now-nationalised bank repay $1 billion – around €720m – to the holders of senior unsecured bonds, although the government’s bank guarantee does not oblige it to cover those prices.

‘Ireland is not Greece’

Adams had specifically pointed out that if this repayment did not go ahead, the government could use the money to pay Special Needs Assistants and fund hospitals and schools, saying “ordinary people were suffering at the bottom” while billions were still being given to overseas bondholders.

Adams urged Kenny not to give another “gift” to Anglo’s bondholders, and asked why it was acceptable to write down the debt of the Greek government but not that of Irish banks.

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Kenny said, in response, that the Greek situation was far worse than that of Ireland, and repeatedly asserted that Ireland “was not Greece”.

The Taoiseach added that all of the current European negotiations were geared on ensuring that the problems being encountered by Greece – which may not now be able to return to the international bond markets for another decade – did not spread to other countries.

He also attacked the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party government for signing off on the “horrendous legacy” of promissory notes to Anglo Irish Bank, which had given that bank enough funds to repay its bonds as they fall due, even when those bonds were not guaranteed.

Read: European leaders to meet again on Wednesday to fight debt crisis >

Previously: €7.3bn: the cost of bailing out unguaranteed bank bondholders so far >

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Gavan Reilly

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