Belfast Telegraph

Cowen: IMF no reason to be ashamed

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has insisted there was no need to be ashamed as he opened the nation's books to the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Cowen insisted Irish sovereignty was not for sale, despite predictions from the country's top banker of an imminent bailout running into tens of billions,

"There is no question of loss of sovereignty for Ireland," Mr Cowen said.

An IMF mission of up to 12 officials will begin poring over Ireland's debt-riddled accounts in Dublin on Friday morning. Mission chief Ajai Chopra has already taken up lodgings across the road from Government Buildings at the exclusive Merrion Hotel.

The ominous arrival has heaped further tension on a population struggling to cope with uncertainty surrounding the country's crippled finances.

In an attempt to calm fears, Mr Cowen - who has been widely criticised over his ability to communicate with the public - insisted Ireland was simply working out options with EU partners to secure the banking sector and the Euro currency.

"I don't believe there is reason for people to be in any way ashamed or humiliated at all," he said.

But one former Taoiseach described the arrival of IMF officials as a "very, very sad day for Ireland".

John Bruton, now EU ambassador to Washington, said the country's long struggle for independence was for the right to have sovereign control over spending and taxation.

"We're now in a position where we'll still be making the decisions but we won't be making them on our own, we'll have others looking over our shoulders," he said. "This is a very serious state of affairs."

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