As the government continues to talk about the likelihood of a debt deal on the Anglo promissory notes, members of the last government suggested that the deal was far more likely than was being suggested.
Yesterday Richard Boyd Barrett was quick to point out that while the government may ‘cobble’ together some form of deal it was the content and effects of the deal that would be in question. All sources seem agreed that what the government will be looking for is an extension of the loan period, most likely over 40 years to ease the repayment schedule. This news will disappoint some who hoped for a write off of debt and others who have argued that a much longer loan period is necessary in order to have a real impact on the economy.
Speaking to me yesterday one Fine Gael backbencher said that he would be ‘highly surprised’ if the government did not secure a deal at this point as he understood that many of the items had already been agreed in principle and it was only a matter of ‘ironing out the details.’
Meanwhile a number of those involved with the last government have confirmed that it is their belief that a deal has already been agreed in principle. One former minister said ‘I believe the deal is done and that it is now only a matter of timing and details over the length of term of the repayment.’ He said that he thought it ‘unlikely’ that the government would have raised the issue of a deal without knowing that it was very much on the table.
However, some controversy arose about how much negotiation was actually involved, with sources from the previous administration suggesting that a deal on the promissory notes at Anglo had always been the understanding and that this was no change from the agreed policy at the outset and therefore no change in negotiation tack. Another former minister said to me that ‘the only real surprise is why this has taken so long, but that is not necessarily the governments fault, what we do know however, is that this deal was always on the table.’
A source very close to the late Brian Lenihan said ‘we came under tremendous pressure to enter into a structured scheme of support’. He went on to say that Jean Claude Trichet had given very solemn assurances that there would be some relief for Ireland down the road because the initial terms had to be so onerous. This is backed up by at least 3 other sources from the cabinet who confirmed that they were led to believe at the time that once they signed up it was with a clear understanding that Ireland ‘would be looked after’ at a later date. They also suggest that the idea of a straightforward extension of the term was the very minimum that would be expected.
Dan Boyle of the Green party shares this view saying that all of the initial efforts were understood to be about ‘buying time’. He says that there was always a belief that ‘meeting the full bill’ was not really possible. However, once the economy showed signs of stabilising and some control had returned that a renegotiation of the debt was going to happen. He too says that he was led to believe that the whole area of ‘unsecured bondholders’ would be looked at as this was something that had been covered at the insistence of the ECB and Ireland was given no choice on. He fears that the government has now ‘oversold’ the proposed debt deal and that a simple loan extension will not meet Ireland’s requirements.
A source very close to Brian Lenihan says that there was a ‘clear expectation’ that something would happen later to reduce the burden on Ireland. All sources were at pains last night to say that they do not wish to get into direct conflict with the government and that at this moment the priority is that the country is put first. However, they argue that they have been disappointed at the governments portrayal of the negotiations as something new; ’They are hyping a deal that is meant to be in some way different to what we were doing, that is not the case’ said one, while another suggested that ‘irrespective of who was in government this is the minimum that had to happen, given the assurances received at the time.’
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen seemed to hint at this previously in an address he made in Washington where he said ‘The next reform must involve a deal on Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes.’ In this address Cowen argued that the whole idea of promissory notes was founded firstly on the fact that it was too expensive to borrow on the markets but secondly ‘promissory notes are a form of debt that can be restructured at some future date without running the risk of triggering default clauses in other types of government debt. Had we initially recapitalised Anglo using regular government debt, we would have shut the door on any possible deal on debt in the future.’
Pointing to this former cabinet members are saying that Ireland and the EU were taking a very cautious approach and dealing with the crisis ‘as we went’ on both sides. They suggest that the entire structure of the deal has always meant that the issue of the Promissory notes at Anglo would be looked at. On this basis it seems likely that it was never a case of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ Ireland would get the deal that is now on offer. The restructuring of this debt seems to have been a carrot that the EU held out from the beginning as a promise to Ireland for assisting in avoiding a contagion that they feared at the time. If this is the case then it would appear that a simple loan extension will not be a negotiating victory but merely another minimalist step on the original path agreed. Rather than a genuine result of hard negotiations it could well be a case of Ireland just awaiting the moment the EU was prepared to move.
Richard Boyd Barrett challenged Enda Kenny in the Dáil on the continuing oil and gas giveaway using figures from Shell to Sea’s “Liquid Assets” which is available here
The Perpetual Ghost: Yawns, and mentally says here we go again. As he waits for the speeches to begin he notes that the cream of the opposition is made up by Independents and that the main opposition parties are but a shadow of themselves –he mentally chuckles
An Ceann Comhairle: I call Deputy Ó Cuív, who has six minutes.
Deputy Eamon Ó Cuív: I get an extra bonus late at night.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is because you are a good boy.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: That is right. I try to be good every day.
My understanding is that we have approximately 4% of the fish available to us but 14% of the waters. The Minister maintains we get 15% of the fish caught and we have 14% of the waters.
Deputy Simon Coveney: That is in Irish waters.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: I suggest that of the total European catch of fish, it is 4%.
Deputy Simon Coveney: Yes.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: This means we are getting one quarter of our entitlement from the Common Fisheries Policy
The Perpetual Ghost: laughs and mentally communicates with the national audience of ghosts. A chorus of silent laughter echoes through the chamber “Boys everyone knows fisheries were sacrificed for farm subsidies”
Deputy Thomas Pringle: They have taken €500 billion from the seas around our coast in the intervening period and have left us with the scraps. One million tonnes of fish are taken from our waters every year out of which we take 170,000 tonnes.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: It is a crime for an island country such as ours that the fishing industry is teetering on the brink of extinction. Our so-called partners are supposedly helping us but in fact they are burying us in the interests of big financial and corporate interests in Europe.
The Perpetual Ghost: This will be fun. The ace hypocrite will now speak.
(The PG is a Ghost who recalls the past in totality and can foresee the future)
Deputy Mick Wallace: We are depleting the oceans.
It reminds me of a saying by a Cree native North American tribe that only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.
The Perpetual Ghost: Observes the sayings of Wallace and allows himself a morally haughty smirk as he blows rings of ether with the words “Cowboy” dangling in the centre of the circle
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Simon Coveney)
I will try to respond to that profound comment at the end. Some of the commentary here has been inaccurate. The Irish fishing industry is not dying on its feet. Last year Irish fishing industry exports grew by 15%. T We also had some extremely wealthy people in the Irish fishing industry, in the pelagic sector in particular where there are 23 boats.
Deputy Martin Ferris: The Minister should compare the fleet size now and ten years ago.
Deputy Simon Coveney: The capacity for catch is just as high now. That said, I am not happy with the state of the industry.
I thank the Deputies for their frankness in contributing to the debate this evening. I certainly got a strong message from them and that will impact on the Government’s thinking.
The Perpetual Ghost: mutters the word Impact and laughs, oh my God government thinking, nonexistent, more thought emanates from the government crèche
The ghost knows that within the next year the only progress visible is fish dumped on the quayside of local fishing ports.
and how right he is.
People Before Profit, TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, condemns the Taoiseach for “deliberately and cynically misleading the Dail” during Leaders Questions this afternoon. | United Left Alliance
In a statement this afternoon, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, condemned the Taoiseach for deliberately misleading the Dail during Leaders Questions. In response to a question about the plight of Home Help workers and those who rely on their services, the Taoiseach, rather than answering the question, repeated a false claim made by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in the Dail last week, relating to disability cuts in the Dun Laoghaire area.
The Taoiseach was referring to Leaders Questions on 11 Oct, when Deputy Boyd Barrett raised the issue of cuts to Angels Quest Respite services with the Tánaiste. At the time, the Tánaiste misled the Dail and said that Deputy Boyd Barrett was “using” the issue of cuts to disabled people for his own political gain and claimed that he had an email in his possession written by Deputy Boyd Barrett, which confirmed this.
The Taoiseach repeated this claim again today and also said that Deputy Boyd Barrett had advised the parents of children affected by the cuts to the respite services to not meet with the Director of Services.
In fact the email referred to was written by one of the parents affected by the cuts to respite services and a member of the executive committee of the Carmona Parents and Families Friends Association. Eamon Gilmore knew this when he falsely claimed it was written by Deputy Boyd Barrett. Unless the Tánaiste also mislead the Taoiseach, the Taoiseach would also have known when he repeated the claim today that Deputy Boyd Barrett was the author of the email.
(See original email pasted below and subsequent comments by parents group on Tánaiste’s misrepresentation of the email and its authorship.)
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “Both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have deliberately and cynically misled the house. They said things that were completely untrue and that they knew were untrue when they said them. In the process, they also misrepresented and trivialised the concerns of parents of the disabled children who are in Angels Quest – falsely claiming they had refused a meeting with the director of services to discuss the future of Angels Quest. Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny knew I had not written this email and yet they said said I had. They knew the parents had agreed to a meeting with Carmona Services but claimed they had not. This is a disgraceful abuse of their positions as the most senior politicians in the country and disgraceful abuse of the Dail itself.
It averages out at more than €214,000 per consultant.
The sum does not include what consultants receive for treating patients admitted to hospital and does not cover the fees for outpatient clinics and private rooms. Factor these figures in and you will add several million to the bill.
The bulk of the consultants are also on public salaries averaging around €150,000. The majority of these consultants work in public hospitals. Their contracts allow them to treat private patients.
Therefore, we have a situation whereby private patients receive treatment in public hospitals using state equipment. Perhaps as a means of raising money, the health minister should consider leasing this equipment to the consultants.
Merkel Opposed to Lowering Irish Costs
Mrs. Merkel has spelt out in unambiguous terms; she’s opposed to any agreement that would lower the cost of the €64bn Irish bank bailout. I wonder why but then she must look after those stupid German banks that lent the money to Anglo.
The opposition FF/SF
I understand FF reluctance to be too vocal after all FG is only implementing agreed FF bailout terms. However, one must ask questions of Sinn Fein. Their record of accomplishment in opposition appears to be negligible.
It looks like we are down to three individuals who genuinely represent the people. To Thomas Pringle, Richard Boyd Barrett and Luke “Ming” Flanagan I say Lads keep the flag flying for you are only hope
Following a devastating summer for agriculture, Leitrim County Council is writing to the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Simon Coveney, TD to bring forward the payments to farmers immediately due to the severe weather conditions. Councillors please note the Minister is at sea and has been since he assumed office, address unknown.
The Minister of Health Dr. Reilly Excited by new findings
The dept of health have noted findings by Case Western University highlighting the fact that scientists have invented a method to induce memories in brains, which means total recall is now here. This development has given the minister cause for optimism for he believes if they can do this it should be no problem to have a forgetfulness memory implant.
The department of health is considering a twenty-year implant for all citizens free of charge. It looks like memory wise this is the end of the bad times.