herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Cabinet uproar as Burton fails to rule out another bailout

ROW: Ludicrous, replies Noonan

JOAN Burton was today facing the prospect of being left isolated at the Cabinet table after again refusing to rule out the prospect of a second bailout.

The Social Protection minister sparked deep unrest among her Cabinet colleagues, after she refused to toe the Government's line on suggestions that Ireland should prepare for further financial assistance.

Ms Burton broke ranks at the weekend by claiming that a second bailout from the Troika cannot be ruled out.

And while Finance Minister Michael Noonan labelled the suggestions as "ludicrous", Ms Burton today claimed that fears still rage over our economy.

"I was asked ... if I could predict what would happen in the eurozone and I said that at the moment, given the level of crisis and uncertainty in relation to the the eurozone, that I didn't have a crystal ball that could predict to the end of next week."

Ms Burton added: "But, what I am in absolute agreement with the Taoiseach and Finance Minister Michael Noonan, is that Ireland is performing the requirements of the current agreement of the Troika.

"We're doing that obviously with great sacrifice by individuals and families all across the country. I think we're doing quite well technically and I'm sure that will be reflected by the Troika in their report when they finish their current visit.



Downgrade

"However, since last week, we've had a further deterioration in relation to the eurozone, we've had downgrading and further uncertainty in relation to some countries."

The comments are likely lead to increased tensions between Ms Burton and Fine Gael.

Coalition sources have revealed that Ms Burton's outspoken nature has left a number of other ministers on edge.

Her remarks sparked tetchy responses from Cabinet colleagues who have ruled out the prospect of another bailout.

And they are in stark contrast to those made by Michael Noonan, who branded the idea as "ludicrous".

Environment Minister Phil Hogan today backed up Mr Noonan's claims, adding that Ms Burton was merely speaking in a "personal capacity".

"The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance have made it clear that we don't intend to go down the road of a second bailout. We are sticking to the terms and we are meeting our targets."

Ms Burton's comments came in response to a claim by respected Citi Group economist Willem Buiter, who said Ireland should start preparing for the prospect of a second bailout and not be left "in a state of near panic at the last minute".

Both Enda Kenny and several of his Cabinet ministers quickly moved to dismiss the suggestions.

hnews@herald.ie

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