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Fine Gael and Labour must get off the sidelines and show leadership in Europe – Doherty

14 September, 2011 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Commenting on the exchange that is to take place this evening between Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and George Papandreou, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that the continued policy of France and Germany unilaterally deciding the future of the eurozone had to be challenged.

Deputy Doherty criticised the Irish government's acceptance of being made to sit on the sidelines and queried whether Fine Gael and Labour have any view on matters in Europe.

Doherty said:

“There is widespread speculation that officials in Brussels and Greece are preparing for a default on Greece’s debts. Commentators are speculating that the exposure of French banks to Greek debt will drag one of the Eurozone's largest economies into the heart of the crisis.

“This all confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying for some time. The debt burden of countries such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland is simply unsustainable. Even with all the savage cuts to public spending it is clear that the approach taken by political leaders across the EU is not working. We argue that for debt levels to be sustainable, banks must shoulder their share of the burden. This will require an orderly default on portions of toxic private banking debt.

“It is not acceptable for France and Germany to continue to deal with this situation unilaterally. It is ridiculous for other countries in the eurozone, in surplus or in debt to be sitting on the sidelines waiting for this crisis to be resolved by two political heads of state. The ECB, the Commission and all the political leaders must bring about a united solution to this crisis and Sinn Féin has made it clear what we think that should be - a write down of debt, a restructuring of remaining burden, stimulus packages and fair deficit reduction programmes.

“Rather than make this point, the Irish government is content to sit on the sidelines awaiting instructions from Merkel and Sarkozy. While Fine Gael and Labour strive to maintain their 'best in the class' reputation, the Greek government is pushing European leaders to reconsider its programme. Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have all said in recent times that 'Europe must show leadership'. Surely it is our own leaders who should be showing leadership for Ireland. I query whether these parties have any view on a European solution or are just happy to be told what to do.”

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