Labour's Burton says Ireland is 'banjaxed'

Monday 29 November 2010 07.20
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Joan Burton - EU & IMF have Ireland 'where they wanted us'
Joan Burton - EU & IMF have Ireland 'where they wanted us'
Michael Noonan - Knew of NPRF contribution
Michael Noonan - Knew of NPRF contribution

Labour's Finance Spokesperson Joan Burton said the country had been hobbled as a result of the European negotiations.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Ms Burton said Ireland was 'banjaxed'.

She said the European and international negotiators played much better poker than the Irish negotiators and 'we are being asked to put up front ... all the assets we have as a country.'

Ms Burton said when our cash reserves have been exhausted, then 'the trap has closed on Ireland and we are banjaxed'. She said the EU and IMF had Ireland 'where they wanted us'.

The party’s leader Eamon Gilmore described the rescue package as a sell out of the Irish taxpayer.

He said the EU and IMF had walked over a weak Government and that the deal had saddled Irish tax payers with a debt that is not sustainable.

Mr Gilmore said the use of the National Pension Reserve Fund would short change pensioners of the future and he said the extension of the deadline for deficit reduction shows that the Government are not confident that the deal will work.

Fine Gael Finance Spokesperson Michael Noonan said the Opposition had been made aware that a contribution would come out of the National Pension Reserve Fund.

He said that this was at least money that 'we won't have to be borrowing elsewhere'.

Mr Noonan said the deal was as expected but said the interest rate was too high.

Speaking on Six One News he said it was a 'peculiar arrangement where there's a subsidiary fund against losses attached to this - so to get €100 you can use, you must borrow €120 and pay interest on the lot.'

He said there was a sort of incentive built into pitching the rate so high and it would force Ireland back into the bond market.

In a statement issued this evening, he said: 'The Government has been out-bid and out-negotiated at every turn. For some reason the Government decided to play it soft, and allowed the IMF, the EU and the ECB to win hands down.'

Employers’ group IBEC said the 5.8% interest rate is very high and will cost about €5 billion per annum.

Danny McCoy said we must now get the economy growing fast and seize upon labour market reforms in the proposal to get as many people as possible back to work and help pay off this debt.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the Government had negotiated a terrible deal.

He said the 5.8% interest rate is unaffordable and described as a disaster the decision to take money out of the Pensions Reserve Fund ‘to pour into black hole that is our banking system'.

The party's Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the deal 'condemns this and future generations of Irish people to economic bondage for many years to come'.

ICTU General Secretary David Begg said the interest rate is penal and unnecessarily high and our European friends have done us no favours in that respect.

He said labour reforms in the package are a euphemism for reducing the minimum wage, which he said was not justified and that he and will colleagues will fight it.

SIPTU General Secretary Jack O’Connor said the agreement is a shameful indictment of the right-wing policies which have informed the Government’s approach for the last 13 years.

Mr O’Connor said the deal meant senior bank bondholders are to be protected, while the lowest paid and those most vulnerable people dependent on public provision are to be crucified.

‘The plan unveiled today should have been announced in Lourdes because, short of a miracle, it is doomed to failure’, he said.

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan welcomed the deal saying the support of the European Commission, ECB and the IMF underpins a clear economic and financial policy path for Ireland.

He said the programme endorses the current policy approach to banking and provides the necessary assurance to achieve a convincing and rapid reconfiguration and downsizing of the banks.