EU concessions for Ireland depend on growth: c.bank

Reuters

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Europe may offer Ireland concessions on its bailout if weak economic growth prevents Dublin from meeting its targets under an EU-IMF bailout, central bank governor Patrick Honohan said on Thursday.

Ireland has vowed to top up its banks' capital cushion to the tune of 70 billion euros and radically overhaul the sector to persuade investors it has the nation's financial crisis under control.

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But Honohan, who also sits on the European Central Bank's (ECB) governing council, said Ireland's ability to meet its debt and fiscal targets under the EU-IMF rescue package would depend on whether the Irish economy can return to growth after a three-year slump.

"Of course we are under tremendous pressure on the financial arrangements (of the EU-IMF deal) but getting the economy going again, returning to growth will make that affordable," he said in an interview with a local television station.

"If our economy goes well, if we get back to growth, get to full employment, then we can pay this easily. If economic growth is weak, then it won't be so easy."

"So I think the arrangements with our European partners could over time be restructured in such a way that we give them a bigger share of our prosperity and our growth and on the other side if things don't go well that we would have deferrals and a longer period of time."

Ireland's economy shrank sharply in the fourth quarter, official data showed last week, reinforcing concerns about its debt mountain.

Honohan said Ireland's relationship with Europe would suffer if the government tried to impose losses on any senior bondholders in Irish banks.

"There would be consequences for our relationship," he said.

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)