Tag Archives: Enda Kenny

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking with Sean O’Rourke this morning

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was on Today With Sean O’Rourke this morning.

At one point in the interview, they discussed Greece and Mr Kenny told how he gave advice to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and how he told the Eurozone leaders to ‘hold on a second here now’.

He also addressed those claims that Ireland didn’t increase income tax, VAT and PRSI.

Sean O’Rourke: “Right now, you and colleagues, around Europe, the European Union and the Eurozone are grappling with the Greece situation. I don’t know if you’ve time to read the letters page in the Irish Times but there was one yesterday, from a man in Limerick, a man called Michael Mahony and he talked about, and you’re somebody who admires Michael Collins and he said, you know, ‘The parallels are striking… The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed under threat of “immediate and terrible war”, just as Tsipras has been threatened with economic annihilation of Greece if he did not accept the terms of the bailout agreement’. You effectively, along with colleagues in Europe, you threw the Greek Prime Minister under the proverbial bus didn’t you last week.”

Enda Kenny: “Certainly not. The position, in so far as Ireland was concerned, was that we were being used as a reference point by other countries as to an expression of common sense: what did you want here? Greece is about 2% of the European economy. Clearly, the Prime Minister himself had said on many occasions at the European Council meetings that I attended at, that Greece did not want a default, that Greece didn’t want to leave the Eurozone, that Greece would pay its way, that what Greece wanted was an infrastructure investment programme, that he was prepared to deal with corruption, that he was prepared to put in place a functioning taxation collection system and that he was prepared to go down to the OECD and take best advice from them and from every other country.

But I would say this Sean, you see, to be straight about this now, I have attended I suppose maybe 25 or 30 European Council meetings and we’ve had Prime Ministers from Greece before, who came before the European Council and said, ‘I tell ya we’ve got a problem, we’re nearly out of it, almost around the corner, another €5billion and we’ll be there and help us out. Prime Minister Samaras had a primary surplus brought in, he was approaching a 1% growth pattern and Greece was actually able to get back into the markets. All this…”

O’Rourke: “Yes but the people voted him out in the election last year and then it came to this new Syrizia government and they said, and Varoufakis was talking to the New Statesman a couple of days ago  said that their “most energetic enemies” in trying to get a better deal for Greece, one that people could live with, were countries like Ireland, Spain and Portugal. And it’s not just him saying things like that. And there’s a quote in from an Irish businessman, Patrick Coveney of Greencore. He said, ‘If you have kept a country together and inflicted shared and collective pain from some medium or long-term benefit, and someone else comes up with the political equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme, it undermines the entire narrative.‘ Said Coveney, now whose brother happens to serve in your Cabinet – it just did not suit your political purposes to see the Greeks get some relief that they badly needed.”

Kenny: No I disagree. You see in the run-up to the election in Greece, which was triggered after the presidential election, the rise of populism brought about all of this instability, there was a pattern of growth and a pattern of movement in  the right direction but Syrizia came along and said, ‘Ok, you don’t need to pay for this, we want to reemploy all the people who’ve lost their jobs and everything. And that’s, that’s their right as a political party. The people made a democratic choice. And now that’s put it back further than ever before and yet the Prime Minister himself said, ‘look, I recognise the scale of the challenge that  we face here now’. I have never met the former [Greek] finance minister Yanis Varouvakis, Michael Noonan met him a few time and he said, ‘well, a lot of his comments are, you know, general rather than being specific – where you need to be if you’re in that business of being a minister for finance.’ But I would say this. From our point of view, before last week’s meeting, the all-night meeting, I actually spoke to Prime Minister Tsipras myself, before the meeting started and I said to him, ‘Alexis, let me give you a piece of advice here, if I may, there are people around the table who don’t trust you. You have got to show them that you’re serious about what you say here because you won’t build trust the way it’s being happening. You’ve got to have a step-by-step demonstration and proof of your conviction and you’ve got to go back to your parliament.‘ And I just say on your show here while the pressure was on to introduce X amount of legislation by a particular date, I did say to the Eurozone leaders, ‘Hold on a second here now, you can’t drive that extent of legislation through just like that and gave, for example, the  marriage equality referendum here which the people voted in but which the Government haven’t been able to put through the House yet because of an objection to the Supreme Court which must hear it. So I said like, in any case, there might well be objections, I’m not sure what the situation in Greek is about court objections or injunctions to prevent legislation but he himself, he himself, Alexis Tsipras was very clear and this went on all night between the involvement of the IMF and the monies that were being talked about. He said, ‘I’ll have these four pieces of legislation done by Wednesday’.”

O’Rourke: “Ok, and when you were talking to Alexis Tsipras, did you say to him, as you said publicly afterwards, in Ireland’s case, we did not income tax, we did not increase VAT we did not increase PRSI  and you were flatly contradicted – there was a torrent of contradiction from all sorts of economists because…”

Kenny: “I explained all that.”

O’Rourke: “…because we did it to the tune of €7billion.”

Kenny: “We didn’t increase income tax and what I was talking about was what the Greeks were talking about, they said their hospitality sector was absolutely critical to them and that the island, of which there are thousands have a very different system then operates on the mainland and and they were very concerned about that and I made the point that VAT in this country for the hospitality sector – you could you know  have tinkered about with it, reduce it by a half per cent. You could have put it down by from 13.5 down to 9, stabilises and created 35,000 jobs. I just made the point that our minister here, Minister Noonan and Minister Howlin, actually built a relationship with the Troika and said, ‘we don’t like that’. We’ll give you an alternative but the alternatives were focused on not creating obstacles to work and not taxing employment. Now, when you say, when you quote there that, Ireland didn’t want Greece to get any benefit here, it wasn’t just Ireland that was really upset about the extent of what might be called a write down because Spain, France and other countries have been exposed to Greek banks in a huge way but we always said that debt reprofiling and rescheduling – such as happened in our case with the promissory note and interest rate reductions – were always things that we support and do support and did support in the case of Greece.”

Listen back to the full interview here

Previously: The Man With One Point

Hello Greece

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“This has been a pretty bruising experience over the last period but what this allows for is a document that’s agreed now that will be the basis for negotiations for a programme for Greece which will allow the Greek economy to thrive and prosper and to continue to remain a member of the Eurozone.

This was a point I stressed before coming here, that Europe should not do anything to cause a Grexit as it’s referred to. This is a challenging position for Greece, a very challenging position but it’s one that the Prime Minister himself has said that he is up for. The first requirement now is for the document to be voted on by the European Parliament. It then has to be followed through with other parliaments voting on it: Finland, Germany. And there are agreements in respect of pieces of legislation to be put through the Greek parliament this week and for others to follow suit. Clearly, the sticking points were the involvement of the IMF and the €50billion fund. This has been settled and agreed and an arrangement has been made for the use of those funds in respect of Greece in terms of privatisation where 25% of proceeds can be used for investment for and the remainder for debt reduction.

So, the IMF is an accepted point by the Prime Minister and their involvement, in terms of their ability and experience in assessing values and conditions, is accepted.

What’s in this for Greece is the potential to grow their own economy to bring it back to a point of stability where growth, investment and jobs can be created and to remain a member of the Eurozone which was the object of the the exercise from the Prime Minister’s point of view in the first instance.

There were quite a number of periods during the course of the night where bi-lateral discussions and references had to be made to details that were in the document but it does start off, by setting out the critical need and the crucial need for the rebuilding of trust.

So I welcome the fact that agreement has been reached after an all-night session. I welcome the fact that this has been accepted by the, by Prime Minister Tspiras, that it is hoped now that this can go through the Greek parliament with assistance from all sides and that it forms the basis for negotiation for a third programme and the details of that will obviously, you know, be discussed over the coming period.

…There was a great deal of discussion about the €50billion, how that might be used and what the outcome would be. Clearly that’s not something that can happen overnight but I did point out that in our own case in Ireland, on a lesser scale that in involvement with the Troika, we were able to use a significant amount of privatisation funds for investment for job creation, provided that it did not interfere with the deficit targets that had been set by the Troika. So in Greece’s case there’s a 25% opportunity to use for investment as well as for debt reduction

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking to journalists this morning after Eurozone leaders talked through the night before reaching a deal with Greece to negotiate a third bailout.

FIGHT!

WATCH: European leaders agree bailout deal with Greece (Newstalk)

Unanimous agreement on deal for Greece (RTE)

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Enda Kenny this morning

Your PFO letter has arrived.

Thank you for your letter of yesterday concerning the negotiations on Greece’s programme of financial assistance. As I have recalled to you at our meetings, Ireland itself experienced a very difficult economic period and worked its way through a programme of assistance and has great empathy for Greece and its people.

We will continue to support the objective of a sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement, acceptable to all concerned, which will, as you say, return Greece to growth within the Eurozone.

It had very much been my hope that, in line with the approach agreed at the Euro Summit of 22 June, and confirmed at the European Council on 25/26 June, agreement would have been achieved at the Eurogroup meeting on 27 June on the basis of the negotiations between your government and the institutions.

Unfortunately, your decision to break off these negotiations meant that this was not possible at that time, as set out in the Eurogroup statement of 27 June.

I hope now that it will be possible to return to negotiations as quickly as possible. For me, and I am sure for all our colleagues, the door remains open to dialogue in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility.

I am happy to acknowledge your stated commitment to Greece’s EMU membership.

Yours sincerely

Text of a letter Taoiseach Enda Kenny sent to Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last night.

Mr Kenny sent the letter in response to a letter from Tspirias in which he requested support from Ireland for an extension of its bailout programme for one month.

Meanwhile, in today’s Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole writes:

““The Pride of Europe” is a makey-up story that is intended to take the place of the realities it displaces. It’s not a stand-alone narrative. It has an evil twin: Greece. It belongs to a particular genre of fiction: the morality tale. Ireland is the pride of Europe because it is the anti-Greece. We are good because we play along with the bigger stories of the euro zone crisis. Greece is evil because it stopped doing so.”

“One of those stories is that the crisis had nothing to do with reckless lending (by, for example, German state banks) and was created purely by reckless borrowing. The other, even more fantastical, is that so-called austerity (in reality a programme of sucking citizens dry to transfer their resources to private banks) produces economic growth.”

“These stories are as patently false as Enda’s fairy tale, but Ireland is the pride of Europe because it has gone along with them and Greece is the shame of Europe because it has not been able to sustain the suspension of disbelief.”

Kenny urges Greece to return to negotiations (RTE)

Who will dare say out loud ‘emperor has no clothes’? (Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times)

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny with with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon in Dublin this morning before the British Irish Council Summit.

Ah go on so.

It’s a caption competition.

Taoiseach to host 24th British-Irish Council Summit (Merrion Street)

Previously: Meanwhile, In London

Pic: Enda Kenny (Twitter)

Update:

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Huh?

Anyone?

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

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Enda Kenny at the Mansion House this afternoon

The Taoiseach said up until recently the Government deemed an internal review by the liquidators of IBRC was the best way to find out more about the row of the sale of the company, Siteserv, to the businessman, Denis O’Brien.

But the row over Dáil reporting of related issues and the subsequent High Court hearings changed that and led Cabinet to decide to set up a Commission of Inquiry.

He said he chose to stand back from court deliberations in recent days until a verdict emerged.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny defends silence over IBRC row (Irish Independent)

Asked if the public should have concern about the extent of Mr [Denis] O’Brien’s power and influence in Irish society, Mr Kenny said:

“Obviously there are regulations and rules governing the ownership of media outlets and communications, and that’s a matter that the Minister for Communications (Alex White) keeps under observation.

“There are legislative conditions set down here. So I wouldn’t comment on an individual in particular but I do note that the Justice in his decision did say that any individual is entitled to privacy, but that clearly in particular circumstances the public good can override the requirement that that might apply.”

Taoiseach Breaks Silence (irish Times)

Pics: Jennifer Bray, (Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)