Bailout 'will not force worse cuts'
The Irish government has denied that a bailout for its crippled economy will see it forced into imposing even tougher cuts in public spending.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen said his officials were discussing "access to money" with the International Monetary Fund and European officials in Dublin.
He sought to play down the implications of the talks and said they would not influence the final shape of a drastic 15 billion euro (£11.1 billion) savings plan his government is expected to finalise on Sunday.
Mr Cowen was on the campaign trail in Co Donegal where polls suggest a by-election threatens to weaken his government's grip on power, but he again said his administration was working in the best interests of the Republic.
"What we are seeking to achieve is, if we get the right terms and conditions, access to money at a cheaper rate than is available on the markets, and that's in the taxpayers' interests, that's in the country's interests," he said.
"And it's because we are trying to protect the tax payers' interests that we are in these discussions and having to work through these issues."
But opposition politicians have accused the government of bringing shame on the state and are demanding Mr Cowen's resignation after the symbolic blow of the IMF arriving in Dublin.
Meanwhile, the Irish government is poised to unveil its four-year recovery plan, amid speculation it will be published on Tuesday. Ministers are expected to meet on Sunday to agree the document.
The Irish government also repeated its belief that its low corporation tax rate of 12.5% would not be affected by any bailout.
The fate of the Irish economy has major international implications, with fears any deterioration may affect other eurozone states.