herald

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Fianna Fail finally admit truth about the bank guarantee

FIANNA Fail's infamous bank guarantee was as much about other European countries as it was about Ireland, the party admitted today.

Party leader Micheal Martin has said for the first time that Irish taxpayers were left with a €34bn bill for basketcase Anglo Irish Bank because the Government felt pressure to save the currency.

"We did it for the euro," he told the Herald.

The admission is unlikely to sit easy with the public who have been hit with constant austerity since October 2008.

But Mr Martin said today that the other eurozone countries "owe Ireland".

However, he has called on voters to back Europe one more time as we are "coming to the end game".



Leverage

He claimed a No vote could "push Europe over the edge".

Mr Martin said he wants a new deal on the bank debt and promissory notes -- after the May 31 vote on the Fiscal Treaty.

The Cork TD noted that the treaty will create a permanent bailout fund in the form of the ESM -- something that was not in place when Brian Cowen's Government guaranteed all bank deposits in 2008.

"We do have to get a fairer deal on that [Anglo promissory notes]. But I do not believe that we should use this treaty to leverage that," he said.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Mr Martin explained: "Before any European facilities were established we ended up having to carry the burden on Anglo, and our taxpayers did.

"We believe that's unfair in the sense that there was no European facility at the time and we did it to prevent contagion across the eurozone.

"We did it for the euro and I think the eurozone countries owe Ireland a review of this, either some write-down of that debt or a dramatic restricting that would lessen its impact."

The former Foreign Affairs minister said that Taoiseach Enda Kenny should be "banging the table on a consistent basis long before the treaty and long after it" to get a better deal for Ireland.

"We believe that separate to the treaty there has to be very robust discussions on the debt."

Mr Martin said that Irish people should realise "the treaty is essential".

"Given how grave things are in Ireland, the last thing we want to do is add to the uncertainty or the shakiness around. There is no point in Ireland pushing, helping to push Europe over the edge. In terms of the European crisis, we're coming to the end game," he said.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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