UK Politics

Cameron and Kenny 'did not discuss Irish loan interest'

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Media captionEnda Kenny on rebuilding Ireland's financial reputation in Europe

Ireland's prime minister has insisted he did not discuss cutting the interest rate on the UK's £3.25bn loan to his country in talks with David Cameron.

But, following the Downing Street meeting, Enda Kenny said any reduction would be "welcome".

He added that he was "grateful" for the help the UK had provided.

Ireland's government is calling for the interest on a separate 85 billion euro (75bn) bailout from the EU and International Monetary Fund to be cut.

Mr Kenny's centre-right Fine Gael party has formed a coalition with the Labour Party in an effort to deal with the country's crippling economic crisis.

The EU/IMF loan - negotiated by the government of predecessor Brian Cowen - is incurring an interest rate of 5.8% a year, which Mr Kenny has argued is too high.

'Gratefully received'

The UK has also loaned Ireland £3.25bn, at a similar rate, with Chancellor George Osborne saying that helping a "friend in need" was in both countries' interests.

After the Downing Street meeting, Mr Kenny promised to "rebuild" his country's financial reputation.

He said: "We didn't discuss the question of any cut in interest alone as far as the British loan is concerned.

"The prime minister made the point that it was put through very quickly by Britain here, and there was no difficulty with that. The interest payment, the draw down, won't occur until later in the year anyway, at which stage the ministers for finance may well have concluded the decision they have to make in respect of the interest rate for the IMF/EU deal.

"And obviously any reduction anywhere would be welcome."

Mr Kenny also said: "I'm satisfied that the British government made a bilateral loan to Ireland... which was very gratefully received."

'Vast majority'

His Downing Street meeting also precedes the Queen's trip to Dublin next month.

The four-day state visit will be the first to Ireland by a reigning British monarch since 1911.

Mr Kenny said the "vast majority" of Irish people were in favour of the occasion, amid reports that there could be some protests against it.

The Queen's visit will include a ceremony in Dublin's Garden of Remembrance and a visit to the Taoiseach at Government Buildings.

Amid reports that protests could mar events, Mr Kenny said: "We welcome the British Queen and the vast majority of people feel like that."

Mr Kenny and Mr Cameron also discussed security concerns, following the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr in Northern Ireland, who was killed by a booby trap car bomb attack outside his home in Omagh, County Tyrone, two weeks ago.

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