Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Osborne joins Ireland bailout talks

Chancellor George Osborne will join talks on an Irish bailout package

European Union finance ministers will meet on Sunday to discuss an 85 billion euro (£72.1 billion) bailout for the Irish economy, amid signs a deal could be in place by the time markets reopen on Monday.

Chancellor George Osborne will join fellow ministers in Brussels for the hastily arranged meeting, the day after 50,000 people marched through the streets of Dublin to protest against the country's austerity budget.

Ireland's Communication Minister, Eamon Ryan, said it was likely an outline agreement for the rescue deal would be concluded by Sunday evening.

It is understood the final figures will be approved at a conference call of the EU finance ministers and a meeting of the Irish Cabinet.

However, Mr Ryan rejected reports the interest rate for a loan from the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be as high as 6.7% for nine years.

"I think that figure was inaccurate and I think it was unfortunate it went out there because I'm sure it scared a hell of a lot of people," said Mr Ryan.

"There are still negotiations going on on that sort of level of detail. It's not fixed yet and we'll have to wait and see until it's actually done. The overall figure has to make sense for us in that we are able to pay it back."

Joan Burton, finance spokeswoman for Ireland's Labour Party, said crunch talks with the IMF, European Central Bank and the EU was the last chance for the Government to secure a fair deal for Irish taxpayers. She said a crippling rate of interest would be an indication that Ireland would be expected to default sooner rather than later.

"The onus is on Government to negotiate a settlement that cleans up the banks and puts the public finances on a sustainable trajectory without putting the Irish people in hock for a generation," said Ms Burton.

"A fair settlement is one which disentangles the banking mess from our public finances and which does not impose an interest rate on us that is overly onerous. From day one of this crisis, the Government has prioritised the interests of the banks and their investors over the interests of ordinary people. This has to change."

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