Tuesday, 21 February 2012
European Council Meetings
Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
As stated on a number of occasions, I do not like that we have to pay out that money. The Deputy spoke about democratic principles. The Government adheres to those democratic principles. The question of requirement for a referendum is clear. It is a democratic principle that people expect effective spend for their money. The Government, because the airgead is not as flúirseach as it was in the past, found itself in the position of having to decide whether or not to contribute to the A5 to Letterkenny. Consequently, the Government made a decision to invest €50 million in 2015 and 2016. While people in other parts of the country might disagree with that decision, it is possible for the Government to do this without holding a referendum. One could hold a referendum on the democratic principle of whether it is worth spending €50 million on, for example, a major carriageway to Letterkenny. It is worth spending, but others might disagree and there is a democratic principle, too. In the case of this referendum question, the Government sent the wording to the Attorney General to ask for her formal legal advice on it. The Government will act on that advice and I hope it will not be too long before she provides her response.
The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, attended the meeting in Brussels yesterday, which went on for 14 or 15 hours. The question on the table was not about the promissory note for Ireland but was whether is was possible to deal with the additional details regarding the proposal to give a further €130 billion to Greece. Consequently, there was no point in the Minister of State raising the issue of the promissory note during the meeting last night which was devoted exclusively to the situation in Greece. The reason it was not necessary to raise was the troika was working on the technicalities of the issue.
Deputy Gerry Adams should believe me when I tell him I have heard some explanations from experts in this field that there are quite a number of highly complex and convoluted systems therein that must be brought into line before there is clarity and a decision can be arrived at. I can only tell him that when the troika concludes its paper, it will have the status of a troika paper. The Government looks forward to receiving it and obviously I hope Ireland can derive some benefit as a consequence. Ireland and taxpayers have already been the recipients of a saving of approximately €10 billion on foot of the interest rate reduction, which is a significant amount of money and of benefit to us. The question of the promissory note is being pursued. The current reflections on the consequence of the decision made in respect of the situation in Greece are important and the Government looks forward to continuing to engage with the troika in so far as further flexibility for Ireland is concerned.