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EU agrees to Ireland rescue deal

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen says the European Union has agreed to Ireland’s request for a multi-billion euro bailout amid fears the debt-laden nation could spread contagion to weak euro economies.


“I can confirm that the government has made a request to the European Union and they have agreed,” Cowen said at a press conference, adding that the International Monetary Fund will also be involved.

“EU and euro-area financial support will be provided under a strong policy programme which will be negotiated with the Irish authorities by the (European) Commission and the IMF, in liaison with the ECB (European Central Bank),” he said.

The Irish cabinet’s request for aid was approved by EU finance ministers during an emergency conference call Sunday evening.

Cowen said the bailout “will address the budgetary challenges of the Irish economy in a decisive manner on the basis of the ambitious budgetary adjustment and comprehensive structural reforms” contained in a four-year budget plan.

“Given the underlying strengths of the Irish economy, decisive implementation of the programme should allow a return to a robust and sustainable growth, safeguarding the economic and social position of the people of Ireland,” he said.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan added that the exact amount of the bailout was still to be worked out.

“We have not determined a precise figure” said Lenihan.

Cowen also said Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporation tax would not be changed.

He added that a central plank of the rescue package would be the “further deep restructuring and the restoration of the long-term viability and financial health of the Irish banking system.”

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