At 4am this morning, the Irish Government, led by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, secured a deal in principle which will alleviate Ireland’s debt burden. This is a major breakthrough and will allow the direct bailout of banks by the ESM. Details will now be worked out in relation to Ireland, but the expectation is that our debt will be reengineered.
An Taoiseach has called the deal a “seismic shift” in EU policy, and it will see the debt burden being eased for Irish taxpayers. It has been a long and difficult road for the Irish taxpayer to get to this point. I know that for many the bailing out of our banks and the manner in which private debt became public debt was hugely unpalatable. But, as a Government we had to bide our time and wait for the right opportunity to go back to Europe with a strong hand. Our cause was strengthened by the fact that we have lived up to all our commitments since coming to Government and stabilised the finances of the country.
This deal can now help shift the balance in terms of private and public debt, and ease substantially the enormous burden Irish taxpayers have had to carry. I want to congratulate An Tasoiseach and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Before the last General Election, we expressed our determination to get a better deal for Ireland and make the EU understand that we cannot emerge from recession and also carry this level of bank debt. It has taken some time, but finally it would seem the EU have come round to our way of thinking. While there will be a lot of negotiations on the specific terms, this is a major step along the road to Ireland getting back into the markets.