Anglo promissory notes deal likely before end of March - Michael Noonan

Thursday 13 December 2012 13.25
Michael Noonan said: 'Because a deal is likely, (the Government) is unlikely to pay'
Michael Noonan said: 'Because a deal is likely, (the Government) is unlikely to pay'

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said a deal on the Anglo promissory notes is "likely" before the end of March, when the next €3.1bn instalment falls due.

Speaking as he arrived for a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Noonan said: "Because a deal is likely, (the Government) is unlikely to pay."

Echoing remarks by ECB President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt last week, Mr Noonan said there was goodwill towards Ireland on the issue.

However, he said there were a number of legal hurdles that had to be overcome.

"I've said on a number of occasions that the political deadline on us is March 31 when the next payment is due, and I have also said that it would be very difficult for Ireland to pay the money on that date, so we're working towards a deal and we hope we get a deal," he said.

Mr Noonan was speaking ahead of an Ecofin meeting at which it is hoped the framework of a new Europe-wide banking supervision system can be forged, as the first part of a wide-ranging EU banking union.

Only once what is called a Single Supervisory Mechanism is in place and proving effective, will the permanent EU bailout fund - called the European Stability Mechanism - be able to directly recapitalise banks in such a way as to take the burden off a state's books.

The Government has been pressing on this issue since the 29 June summit in Brussels, during which eurozone leaders agreed to provide support for the Irish financial situation.

It hopes the ESM can be used to retroactively tackle some €30bn of bank debt relating to the recapitalisation of Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB.

Mr Noonan said: "There is a commitment to Ireland and that commitment was reinforced in bilaterals between the Taoiseach and the German Chancellor and the French President.

“So we'd be hoping as the year goes by that we can get into serious discussions."

The Government has said that the possibility for the ESM to help alleviate Ireland's legacy bank debt burden and the question of the Anglo promissory notes were two separate issues.

IBRC's Dukes sought minister's public backing

Separately, it has emerged that Irish Bank Resolution Corporation chairman Alan Dukes asked the Minister for Finance to publicly confirm his confidence in the bank's management.

Minister Noonan said he had confidence in the board of IBRC (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) and its executives in a Dáil reply to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

Mr Dukes wrote to Mr Noonan to counter what he described as "damaging" coverage of the bank.

He was referring to the appointment of a Department of Finance official Neil Ryan to fill a senior role in IBRC.

It was speculated in the media that Mr Ryan's appointment could undermine the role of chief executive Mike Aynsley and his team.

That prompted Mr Adams to ask Mr Noonan if he had confidence in IBRC's board and executives.

In a letter released to RTÉ News under Freedom of Information, Mr Dukes said media coverage of Mr Ryan's appointment was damaging.

Mr Dukes also asked the minister to confirm his confidence in the management and board in his response to the Dáil question.

He said Mr Ryan's skills and experience represented an important contribution to the bank.