Irish President Michael D Higgins chimed in on the Eurozone debt crisis this week, criticizing the response of European leaders and the actions of the European Central Bank.

The Irish president condemned the failure of EU leaders to break the link between bank and sovereign debt.

“It would have been of immense benefit naturally to growth, employment creation and investment if the ... commitment of separating banking debt from sovereign debt had in fact been implemented,” Higgins told the Financial Times in an interview.

“It would give you the opportunity to breathe and create growth in the economy.”

There was a need for “radical economics” and a “radical rethink” of how EU leaders were handling the economic crisis, he said.

The President questioned Europe’s basic economic model.

“There is a real problem in what was assumed to be a single hegemonic model,” he said.

“The unemployment profile in Greece is different from the unemployment profile in Ireland. You need a pluralism of approaches,” he told interviewer Jamie Smyth.

In the Financial Times interview he said that the EU faced not only an economic crisis, but a moral one – and remarked: “You are either a union or you are not.”

In response to his forthright remarks, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the President's comments were “helpful” to the Government in the debate on the euro zone.

“The president has been both in his speech to the European Parliament, and indeed in his interview, has been very accurately reflecting the themes of the Irish presidency which is about stability, jobs and growth,” Gilmore told the Irish Times.

“As a Government we have made it very clear that the route to economic recovery is not only through budget adjustment, it’s also through growing the European economy and this has been a consistent view that the Irish Government has expressed from the very beginning of this crisis.”