FINANCE minister Michael Noonan has revealed in a major interview with the Limerick Leader that “three or four hundred jobs” will be announced at a site close to the University of Limerick early in the new year.
Declining to name the company involved because the information was considered to be “market sensitive”, he said the announcement for Plassey would come “in January or February”.
In a wide-ranging interview, the Minister for Finance also attacked Vincent Browne, the Limerick-born broadcaster who strongly criticised him recently for failing to take part in The People’s Debate, his TV3 programme which focused on election issues in the Limerick City constituency.
Mr Browne had claimed that the veteran politician was “too important” to turn up.
Describing Mr Browne as “a charlatan”, Mr Noonan said: “I just don’t like the fella. He comes up here, into Limerick, and he launches an attack on me for no good reason. Vincent would have known four years ago that I wouldn’t appear on his programme. The position is Vincent Browne could be running a programme all night from the Statue of Liberty and Michael Noonan will not go on.”
Limerick’s most senior politician also said he was expecting that the Fine Gael/Labour coalition would be returned to power and said he was resolutely against the idea of Fine Gael going into government with Fianna Fail, because it would leave Sinn Fein as the main opposition party.
“You’d be handing the country over to a Sinn Fein led government, second time out. You’re teeing up a different model to what we’ve had since 1922. I won’t be around for that one, obviously. But you’re teeing up a left-right model and I think Sinn Fein don’t pass the economic literacy test. I don’t think they have any idea how to run a private sector economy.”
Mr Noonan also said he believed “history will be kind” to the current government and in particular the Economic Management Council of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, and the two finance ministers, Brendan Howlin and himself.
In describing his efforts to bring about the country’s economic recovery, he said: “I’d hope to have a significant number of papers which will allow historians to write what they want to write about the period. I’d be more into history than gossip. So what I leave behind will be the documentary trail of the five years of the recovery – rather than personal opinion.”
He said he intends to hand these documents over to an Irish university.
Referring to his comeback from the political wilderness six years ago, he said: “It’s like the Kerry team, you know – if you go on long enough there are several comebacks. I had a comeback in the Nineties as well. I was in exterior darkness and John Bruton brought me back into his government. So I see my life not as success, failure and comeback. My life is like the chart at the bottom of the bed in hospital.
“We happen to be on a rising curve at the moment and it has lasted for five years.”
- To read the full interview with Michael Noonan, see the print editions of the Limerick Leader, pages 12-13