Ireland opposition slams finance deal as 'sell-out'

29th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Ireland's opposition parties lined up Sunday to criticise the 85-billion-euro bailout agreed with international partners as a "national sell-out" which marked "a sad and sorry day for our country".

"This deal announced this evening with the EU and the IMF is a national sell-out that will leave the citizens of this country with a crippling level of debt for years to come," a statement by Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore said.

"This is a sad and sorry day for our country and the direct result of Fianna Fail (the ruling party) mismanagement and irresponsibility," the statement added.

Ireland expects to pay an average interest rate of 5.8 percent a year on the international loans, Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced Sunday.

Michael Noonan, finance spokesman for the main Fine Gael main opposition, compared the negotiations to a game of poker which the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union are set to win.

"The bottom line on this is that the government has been cleaned out in the negotiations, (they) have been very soft in their approach," he told RTE state radio.

Fellow opposition party Sinn Fein called the rescue package a "terrible deal" and criticised plans to use 17.5 billion euros out of the state's pension pool to help fund the bailout.

"The 5.8 percent interest rate is unaffordable," Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams added.

"The decision to force the state to take 17.5 billion euros out of the Pensions Reserve Fund to pour into the black hole that is our banking system is a disaster," he added.

Irish banks, brought down by toxic debts and a slide in investor confidence, will be able to draw on a total of 35 billion euros out of the 85-billion-euro package.

The governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Patrick Honohan, defended the package.

"The support of the European Commission, ECB and the IMF underpins a clear economic and financial policy path for Ireland," Honohan said.

Danny McCoy, director general of the the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), said the EU-IMF deal "provides much-needed certainty around Ireland's public finances and the path to recovery".

The Irish press focussed on the responsibility of those holding Irish debt to absorb some of the cost of the rescue.

"Default! Say the people," the Irish Independent said, pointing to a poll it conducted which found that 57 percent of the country's population favoured defaulting on debts to bondholders.

"It is impossible to understand how bondholders can expect to remain unscathed by the crisis," the Irish Examiner said in its editorial. "That they...have not is at the root of so much of the anger."

About 50,000 people took to Dublin's streets Saturday to oppose savage cutbacks needed to secure the bailout.

The government is expected to come under fire when parliament sits for the next time on Tuesday.

© 2010 AFP

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