Over the past several months, particularly over the past several weeks, we have been led to believe that a deal to restructure the promissory notes was all but done. We on this side of the House support the need for a restructuring of our bank debt. As the Taoiseach said in Paris before Christmas: "Ireland was the first and only country which had a European position imposed upon it, in the sense that there was not the opportunity if the Government wished to do it their way by burning bondholders." In essence, the Taoiseach said Ireland showed solidarity to prevent the risk of contagion at the time which now needs to be reciprocated.
In addition, many media commentators felt a deal was clearly on the cards over the last while. To be fair to all of those concerned, the leaks and the usually well-informed sources certainly led people to come to such a conclusion. However, if it was not for Reuters we would probably have the same view today. The Government did not indicate all along, and certainly not last week, that there was any setback or any significant challenge particularly in the context of the European Central Bank, ECB, meetings. It was Reuters that revealed on Friday evening that the ECB did not accept an Irish Government proposal, claiming it was contrary to EU treaty law. Will the Taoiseach comment on this? Will he specifically outline to the House the Government's proposal to the ECB on the promissory notes?
At this stage we need transparency. The Government has been negotiating for the past 18 months. There seems to be a lack of willingness to communicate the facts about the progress made, or otherwise, in the basic request the country has made to the ECB. How many ECB meetings are left where this issue will be considered? Will the Taoiseach indicate the impact any such deal will have on next year's budget? The Tánaiste escalated the rhetoric several days ago when he told Latin American leaders meeting their European counterparts that any failure to arrive at a deal would be catastrophic. Will the Taoiseach explain what the Tánaiste meant by "catastrophic"?