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Title: Ireland and Spain share a "vital interest" in ensuring the European Union emerges from the financial crisis as a "united, strong and effective vehicle" for the future
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I reland and Spain share a "vital interest" in ensuring the European Union emerges from the financial crisis as a "united, st...

Ireland and Spain share a "vital interest" in ensuring the European Union emerges from the financial crisis as a "united, strong and effective vehicle" for the future, President Mary McAleese has said.

During an address on the state of the Irish economy at the New Economic Forum in Madrid today, Mrs McAleese spoke of both countries facing difficult odds in the past and overcoming them.

The President told the forum of business people the Government is "strongly committed" to the retention of the current corporate tax regime and that its agenda will be dominated by "recovery, renewal and restoration".

She said: "This is not blind optimism. Ireland has a firm, solid base on which to build our recovery and intensive efforts are underway to correct our public finances, increase our competitiveness and stabilise our banking system."

In a wide-ranging question and answer session following the address Mrs McAleese was asked about the pressure being applied by France on Ireland in relation to the 12.5 per cent tax rate and the chances of restructuring the State’s debt.

Mrs McAleese said the corporate tax is part of an “integrated platform of strengths that will help pay off our debts and grow the country”.

She said she is hopeful the issue of "sustainability and payability of debt" will be taken on board at the EU summit in Brussels later this week. However, she added that as she is not an "active politician and not partial to any of the decisions" it would be wrong of her to comment further.

One reporter asked Mrs McAleese if she agreed German lending was partly responsible for the financial crisis in Ireland to which she replied the country is "very grateful" for Germany’s support and that Ireland has been "major beneficiaries" of the main European power.

Others asked if she considered China a threat, her views on same-sex marriage and the parallels if any between the Basque conflict and the north.

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