Minister calls for debt deal if EU vote needed

Sunday 18 December 2011 21.54
Mr Hayes said an additional deal would have to be put in place if a referendum is to take place
Mr Hayes said an additional deal would have to be put in place if a referendum is to take place

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes has said it would be difficult for a referendum to be passed on the new EU budget plans if a better deal on our debt burden isn't struck.

Mr Hayes said today that in a context of such a vote, it is important that the EU authorities would cut Ireland a better deal which would see repayments on some debt stretched out over a longer period of time with a lower interest rate.

Whether or not a referendum is needed on new EU budgetary plans is still to be decided.

The Attorney General who is considering the matter has not yet been given her advice to Cabinet.

Today, Mr Hayes said an additional deal, which would help reduce the country's onerous debt burden, would have to be put in place if a referendum is to take place, and indicated that it would be difficult to see any referendum passed without it.

Responding, the Independent TD Finian McGrath said the coalition does not have a hope in getting a vote passed if the debt issue is not addressed.

Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe said any new deal would amount to a sweetener, and said a referendum would not be passed.

Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power said she was concerned that the government doesn't have a strategy to bring about such a change to debt burden.

Meanwhile, one of the European Parliament's lead negotiators on the new treaty for economic union has dismissed the possibility of Ireland reaching agreement on changes to Irish debt as part of the ratification process.

Speaking to the RTÉ’s This Week programme MEP Elmar Brok said that issues surrounding Ireland's debt burden should be separate to the new treaty.

He said if everyone had conditions for approving the treaty, "nothing would happen", asking why Germany would give guarantees to anyone.

Elmar Brok said everyone had to give something to arrive at a point of common interest.

Irish North West MEP Marian Harkin said the treaty failed to tackle a number of key issues, she said a process of strict rules would not help Europe recover.

Ms Harkin said European leaders are not being honest with their people.