Paschal Donohoe may not need to remain finance minister to keep Eurogroup chair, Tánaiste says

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Paschal Donohoe might not need to remain finance minister to keep his position as Eurogroup chair in December.

r Varadkar has repeated his argument that Mr Donohoe should remain chair of the eurozone finance ministers group – although Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he expects Fianna Fáil to take over the finance ministry in December, a move that threatens to jeopardize Mr Donohoe’s presidency seems.

Mr Varadkar claimed on Wednesday that if an Irish person had chaired the Eurogroup over a decade ago, different decisions on the bank guarantee might have been made.

“I think the fact that an Irish person holds that position is an advantage for Ireland,” he told reporters at Government Houses.

“When an international corporate tax agreement was struck, the fact that the person speaking on behalf of the eurozone was a Minister in the Irish Government was really very useful and helped us to frame these proposals in a way that protected our interests .

“I think everyone knows how important it is that we protect our corporate tax base here in Ireland.

“I think 10 or 11 years ago when decisions were being made about bank guarantees and bank bailouts and burning bondholders and all that, it’s a real shame that the Eurogroup President at the time wasn’t Irish.

“It might have been a different decision if there had been an Irish person in the room and we would have been in a very different place.”

Public Expenditure Secretary Michael McGrath, who is widely believed to be taking on the role of finance secretary for Fianna Fáil, said yesterday he would expect to take Ireland’s position in the Eurogroup if he were finance secretary

However, Mr Varadkar suggested on Wednesday that Mr Donohoe could continue to chair the Eurogroup while holding a ministry that was not finance.

“I think the understanding is that in order to continue chairing the Eurogroup, Minister Donohoe has to be finance minister – that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. So that assumption is being made wrong,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said there had been no discussion on the issue with either the Taoiseach or Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and said it was not a priority for the government. “We’ll talk about that in November and December,” he said.

He said he had not lobbied anyone to keep Mr Donohoe as finance secretary so he could continue as Eurogroup chair.

However, the Fine Gael leader ruled out the suggestion that he should remain as Tánaiste and Mr Martin as Taoiseach in order to keep Mr Donohoe as finance minister and Eurogroup chair.

“I think we have an agreement on how the government is going to proceed. That includes changes in the cabinet in December and they will be made in accordance with the agreement,” he said. Paschal Donohoe may not need to remain finance minister to keep Eurogroup chair, Tánaiste says

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