Belfast Telegraph

Cowen welcomes 85bn euro bailout

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said an 85 billion euro bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe was in the best interest of Ireland and its people.

The deal for the rescue package was approved at an emergency meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels in time for the markets to reopen on Monday.

The Government applied for the loan last Sunday when it conceded the bank crisis was too big for the country.

Mr Cowen revealed the banking sector will be downsized and restructured under the terms of the package and warned that without the loan, tax increases and spending cuts would be more severe in the upcoming budget.

"The final agreed programme represents the best available deal for Ireland," said Mr Cowen.

"It allows us to move forward with secure funding for our essential public services, for our welfare state, for the most vulnerable members of society that depend on them. And it provides Ireland with vital time and space to successfully and conclusively address the unprecedented problems we have been dealing with since this global economic crisis began."

Of the 85 billion euros, Ireland itself has agreed to contribute 17.5 billion - by raiding pension funds to play its part in its own bailout to prop up the ailing banks.

The loan facility includes up to 35 billion euros to support the banking system - 10 billion euros of which will be drawn down immediately for the recapitalisation at a rate of 5.8%.Some 50 billion euros will cover financing the state.

Opposition politicians claimed the bailout deal amounts to a national sell-out that will leave the country crippled with debt.

The deal was struck the day after 50,000 protesters marched through the streets of Dublin against the country's drastic austerity measures.

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