Defaulting on bondholder debts would be a bad move, says Limerick's JP McManus

LIMERICK businessman JP McManus says that Ireland will pay "an enormous price" in the future should it default or not pay its national debt. The Ballysheedy native says that the country has to return to the "nuts and bolts" - tourism and farming if it is to rebuild the economy again.

LIMERICK businessman JP McManus says that Ireland will pay "an enormous price" in the future should it default or not pay its national debt. The Ballysheedy native says that the country has to return to the "nuts and bolts" - tourism and farming if it is to rebuild the economy again.

Mr McManus was speaking this week in an interview with Ivan Yates on Newstalk's breakfast show in which he was questioned on everything from his tax exile status to his opinions on the EU/IMF deal and the cries in some quarters to "burn the bondholders".

Mr McManus began his response to the question of whether a default would damage Ireland's reputation, by cautioning that it is sometimes hard for him to comment on these issues "because I may have a position".

However, when pressed on the issue he said that the legacy the country leaves its children and grandchildren should not be one of a country "that didn't pay its bills".

"We will pay an enormous price in the future should we default or not pay. Circumstances may forces us not to but it wouldn't be my route," said Mr McManus when asked about the inevitability of a default.

"I think we have to leave our children and grandchildren ...that their forefathers paid their bills - I think that is a priority for us but as I said it is hard for me to comment on this because I may be one of those bondholders. I might have a vested interest or my charities or something," he said.

Asked if he would be worried for the Mid-West in light of the closure of companies like Dell and the social problems being experienced in Limerick city, Mr McManus said that while these are "tough times" for the Mid-West and Ireland - "it is a world wide crisis".

"No matter where you go, they have got problems and they have to face up to them now. We read all about what happened here but if you go on the continent they have their own problems - ours are well highlighted."

Discussing the issue of people being able to avoid tax by going abroad, Mr Yates asked Mr McManus if he felt there is a lot of begrudgery out there.

"These are tough times and I can see why people would find it difficult to understand," said Mr McManus in response. "These are tough times on everybody. Begrudgery, I think, is too strong a word. I think people are upset and they feel things could have maybe been handled differently."

In response to Newstalk presenter Chris Donoghue's suggestion that people will say that it is unpatriotic to be a proud Irish person talking about putting a shoulder to the wheel while at the same time setting up affairs so that he is benefiting outside the country, Mr McManus said: "As I said earlier I have an investment company outside in Switzerland and it's an ideal location for the type of investments I make.

"It is also where I can find the people with the skills and experience to help to run and grow those businesses."

On a personal level, Mr McManus, who confirmed that he spends more than a third of the year in Ireland, said that nothing gives him more pleasure than getting on the plane abroad to come back home.

On a final note when asked if sponsoring Limerick GAA was not "throwing good money after bad", Mr McManus said: "In Limerick I think they are making good progress with the youth.

"I'm sure it's hot competition with the rugby down here - with Munster doing so well - so many young fellas want to play rugby as well as the GAA, but I'm sure we will come through it okay and wouldn't it be lovely to see a Wexford Limerick All-Ireland final again," he said to Wexford man Yates.