Private Members’ Business – Promissory Note

PaulConnaughton-2-150x150

Dáil Éireann 5th February 20th

 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this motion.

 

In the two years since this Government took office, our fundamental aim at all times has been to stabilise the perilous economic situation we found ourselves in and get Ireland back to a position where it can emerge from recession, and people of all ages can look towards the future with renewed confidence.

 

Stabilising employment levels has been crucial, and we have also had to stabilise the banks and while last year the issue of the promissory note for the bank formerly known as Anglo was averted, this year it will have to be dealt with prior to the deadline of March 31st.

 

Considering the huge cuts we have had to implement as we seek to balance the country’s books, and the toll that those cuts are taking on ordinary people of every age, all across the country, it is important that we do not pay this €3.1 billion promissory note.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with the approach being taken by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance in dealing with the ECB and our European partners. It is imperative that Europe not only talks a good game, but that such goodwill is turned into a positive outcome for Ireland, which will demonstrate tangible European support to enable Ireland to get back on its feet quickly.

 

I’m sure nobody in this chamber has forgotten that even without the promissory note or the bank debt, we still have a €15 billion deficit that needs to be addressed.

 

A positive deal on the forthcoming promissory note would send an important signal to investors in Ireland and abroad that Ireland is getting back on track, that our debt is sustainable and that we are back in business.

 

Stable public finances are essential for job creation and economic growth in Ireland and some members on the benches opposite appear to have forgotten that we will only be successful in the long term if the international markets believe that our debt is sustainable. This is not about the short term, it’s not about the lifetime of this Government, this is about putting Ireland back on a sustainable footing for the long term.

 

It is also very important that our European partners fully understand that this is not simply about Ireland getting a good deal, it’s about Ireland getting a fair deal. The money which washed through Ireland during the years of the boom materialised from within Europe and thus our European partners must shoulder some of the responsibility.

 

I cannot support the motion before us this evening because with almost two months of negotiations still to take place, it is completely premature and as we speak the Minister and the Taoiseach are pushing hard for a very positive deal for Ireland. If a deal is concluded, I am well aware that the Minister for Finance will explain it in detail to members of this House, but until such time as a deal is concluded, if a deal is concluded, such speculation is idle. The motion before the house, if passed, would completely undermine the Government’s negotiating position and would not, I believe, be in the best interests of the Irish people.

 

To date, the Government has achieved a number of important successes, including the renegotiation of many of the conditions of the bailout programme and a significant reduction in interest rates on EU funds.

 

It’s all too easy for opposition members in the House to be negative at all times. They have the luxury of being able to knock every positive suggestion and to criticise deals yet unmade. It is not their responsibility to make the difficult decisions which need to be made in order to balance this country’s budget, they can call for the non-payment of this promissory note safe in the knowledge that it will not fall to them to assess the repercussions of not doing so.

 

I believe that with over seven weeks left to the deadline, the right and proper thing for this Government to do is to get on with the hard behind-the-scenes work of negotiating the best deal possible for Ireland and I wish them well in their endeavours.