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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020

Sarkozy blocking Ireland's attempts to get interest rate cut but Kenny has not yet met French president

It has emerged that the Taoiseach may not have even held a phone conversation with the French leader since taking office in March.

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

ENDA KENNY HAS so far refused to meet Nicolas Sarkozy in his first 100 days in office despite the French president blocking a reduction in the average interest rate on Ireland’s EU/IMF bailout bailout.

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil yesterday, Kenny said that he would meet with Sarkozy in “due course and at the appropriate time” despite reports from France, quoted by Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin, that Sarkozy’s officials were amazed that the Taoiseach had yet to go to Paris to discuss the interest rate.

Martin said that since the election, Kenny’s office could not even confirm that he had spoken to the French president on the phone and that since taking office, Kenny had held only one bilateral meeting with another European leader involved in the funding package, UK prime minister David Cameron.

He accused the Taoiseach of a “hands-off policy” and called on Kenny to meet face-to-face with leaders who are “standing in the way of delivering the better terms everyone agrees are required”.

Responding, Kenny said that Ireland had always enjoyed good relations with its European counterparts but accused the previous administration of letting that slip with a “decade of non-attendance and non-participation and an arrogant assumption that this country was on top of the pile and would stay there.”

He described the country’s relationship with European partners as “nothing short of disgraceful” because of this.

Responding to that assertion, a source for Fianna Fáil told the Irish Examiner that a small number of meetings were missed by former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and Martin, when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs, for personal reasons.

The source added that meetings were also missed because of the removal of pairing arrangments by the then Fine Gael and Labour opposition which meant that Fianna Fáil ministers had to be present for Dáil votes.

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Hugh O'Connell

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