Kenny questioned about Sarkozy meeting

Wednesday 22 June 2011 19.31
Sarkozy & Kenny - Fianna Fáil wants to see a meeting between the two
Sarkozy & Kenny - Fianna Fáil wants to see a meeting between the two

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will arrange a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy if and when it is appropriate.

Mr Kenny faced questioning from both the Opposition and the media today on why he had not spoken to Mr Sarkozy about the interest rate on Ireland's bailout loan.

Speaking to reporters he said: 'What do you want me to do? Ring up the Élysée and say I am here and I want to talk to you?'

Earlier in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he found it astounding that Mr Kenny had not had a bilateral meeting with the man who was holding up a cut in Ireland's bailout interest rate.

Mr Martin also asked why the issue of an interest rate cut was not on the agenda for the European Council meeting tomorrow and Friday.

The Taoiseach said the agenda was set by the President of the Council, that the issue of the interest rate was being dealt with by finance ministers, and that officials were in regular contact with their counterparts about it.

He said he had never set a date for conclusion, but it was his belief that it would conclude successfully.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams pointed out that the Government kept saying it would abide by the conditions of the bailout, asking why on earth other European countries would take Ireland seriously when we say we are committed to doing what they want.

Labour TD Tommy Broughan asked if the Government would give the people a say on the bailout agreement in a referendum.

Sinn Féin's Peader Tobin asked if changes to the Lisbon Treaty to accommodate the new European Stability Mechanism would require a referendum.

Mr Kenny said the Attorney General was assessing the position, but her predecessor had said no Irish referendum would be required.

Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the Government is hopeful it will reach an agreement next month on the bailout deal with the ECB and the IMF that will allow us access funds at a lower interest rate.

Speaking in Roscommon this morning, Mr Coveney said there was too much linkage between Ireland and Greece.

'We are not in the same category as Greece', Mr Coveney said.

Greece is in 'an emergency situation', he said, but the IMF is 'very happy' with the way Ireland is performing.