Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Government had failed at Thursday’s EU Council meeting to secure a deal on legacy debt because since they came into office they have never had a strategy to achieve such an objective.
Mr Adams said a deal has to be done on banking debt as it was unsustainable but this will only be achieved if the Taoiseach changed tactics. If the Government does this he said, it would have Sinn Féin’s support.
Gerry Adams said:
“At Thursday’s European Council the Government failed to secure a deal on legacy debt because since they came into office they have never had a strategy to achieve such an objective.
“The record shows that despite advice from Sinn Féin and others they refused to tackle our EU partners on this issue. In fact the Taoiseach dismissed our advice on numerous occasions and famously said ‘we will not have the word defaulter stamped on our forehead. We will pay our debt.’
“The Government also dismissed proposals for growth in the economy, jobs stimulus and similar propositions.
“When President Hollande was elected in France they changed their public posture on these issues. But in the absence of a negotiations strategy there was little chance of them impacting on the EU agenda, especially when they are slavishly following austerity policies.
“So, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have nobody to blame but themselves for the outcome of this week’s EU summit.
“The history of this Government’s approach to Ireland’s crippling bank debt burden is a catalogue of failure and incompetence.
“Despite this, Sinn Féin advice has been given in good faith. On the eve of the summit last week I suggested to the Taoiseach, once again, that he needed to change tack.
“In June of this year, the Government announced that it had achieved a deal. Mr Kenny spoke of a ‘seismic shift’ in EU policy and the Tánaiste proclaimed that the outcome was a ‘game changer’.
“Sinn Féin warned that the government was over-selling the agreement. This became even more obvious in September with the statement from Finance Ministers in Germany, the Netherlands and Finland. The Government made no effort to contact the leaders of these states to get them to clarify the position.
“On Friday when the Taoiseach once again hyped Thursday night’s statement, Angela Merkel clarified the position for him.
“Our banking debt is unsustainable. This fact gives the Taoiseach considerable negotiating leverage. He has chosen not to use this because he is in thrall to the bigger European states and because he lacks any vision other than austerity.
“The fact is that this Government has never seriously sought a bank debt write down despite all its pre-election commitments and its recent public pronouncements. Instead they have borrowed €67 billion from the Troika and given €64 billion of this to the banks.
“At the beginning of this month they paid €1 billion to unguaranteed bondholders.
“It is little wonder that other EU leaders and the banks do not take the Government seriously.
“When the Government recently called for a separation of bank and sovereign debt I welcomed this. The fact is that a deal has to be done but this will only be achieved if the Taoiseach changes tactics. If the Government does this, it would have Sinn Féin’s support.”