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Noonan still chasing 'good deal' in promissory note talks

The finance minister says saying the deal is dead is “premature”, but vows: Ireland “is not going to default.”

FINANCE MINISTER Michael Noonan has insisted he remains optimistic about the prospect of securing a deal on the IBRC promissory notes ahead of the repayment due in March – saying reports that a deal has collapsed are “premature”.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Noonan said he was still working “to try and achieve a solution”, acknowledging that it would be “very difficult” for Ireland to make the €3.06 billion repayment due in 59 days’ time.

The minister said it would be “not possible to give guidance on the timing or potential outcome of discussions”, as doing so could threaten any progress Ireland had made in its talks with the ECB on avoiding the current system will which see €3.06 billion repayments every year until 2023, and smaller repayments until 2031.

But he added: “I remain confident that an agreement can be reached” – but drew the line at simply refusing to make the next repayment on March 31, asserting:

The Irish government is not going to default.

Noonan was speaking in response to Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, who had sought clarity from the government following weekend reports that the ECB had rejected Ireland’s preferred option – to issue a long-term bond in the place of the promissory notes.

“How come this preferred option has been rejected?” he asked. “How come we made a proposal in the first instance when we weren’t sure first that it was going to fly at the ECB meeting?”

Doherty demanded assurances that an alternative suggestion proposal would be tabled at the next meeting of the ECB’s governing council, due in eight days’ time, pointing out that there were only four meetings of that council left before the Irish repayment was due.

Noonan said Ireland had been “working carefully to build an understanding and confidence around a set of proposed transactions designed to deliver for Ireland, and that work is ongoing” – before blasting Sinn Féin’s stance on the issue.

“The underlying position is that Sinn Féin’s political strategy is to build a political movement in the hope that the government will fail, that the economy will decline into a worse state than what it was when we inherited it, and that people will turn to Sinn Féin to rescue them,” he said.

The alternative position is default… have a look at what’s happening in Argentina, even last week [...] since they defaulted twice, and you’ll see why default is not an option.

Read: Taoiseach still ‘confident’ of promissory note deal by March

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Gavan Reilly

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