Belfast Telegraph

Cowen denies bid for EU rescue deal

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has flatly denied Ireland has approached Europe for emergency funds.

Dismissing reports of behind-the-scenes talks on securing a rescue package from the European Financial Stability Facility, Mr Cowen said the country was fully funded until next July.

"We've made no application whatsoever for funding," he said.

Amid fears the Government was trying to ease runaway interest rates on global money markets, the Taoiseach said there were issues for the euro that Ireland was working with EU partners on.

"We are part of a wider currency area and there are issues for the euro currency... we are co-operating with our colleagues on those issues," he said, adding that he would work with European partners in coming weeks and months to make sure the euro remains stable.

Earlier, five European Union finance ministers - George Osborne of the UK, Christine Lagarde of France, Wolfgang Schauble of Germany, Italy's Giulio Tremonti and Spain's Elena Salgado - broke off from the G20 summit in Seoul for talks on Ireland's economic crisis.

In an unusual move Mr Osborne united with eurozone counterparts and put to one side the tradition of allowing them to manage issues within the single currency region. The British Chancellor said: "We should support the Irish Government in the steps that it is taking."

In a joint statement the five finance ministers insisted banks and investors lending to Ireland would not face losses on loans, adding: "Any new (bailout) mechanism would only come into effect after mid-2013 with no impact whatsoever on the current arrangements."

Newswire Reuters said eurozone sources have confirmed negotiations between Ireland and EU officials on tapping into the financial stability fund set up in the wake of the Greek economic crisis.

But Mr Cowen said there was no immediate need for a bailout, insisting Ireland was funded up to the middle of July next year. "We have funding up to mid-year... we don't have to borrow any money in respect of the sovereign debt, the sovereign issues that affect the Government and running of the country," he said.

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