Irish cabinet meets
IRELAND: Ireland’s cabinet holds an emergency meeting Sunday
to finalise a four-year deficit crisis plan seen as key to winning an
international bailout and easing fears about the future of the euro.
The meeting comes as the Irish officials hold a fourth day of tense
talks with the European Union, European Central Bank (ECB) and
International Monetary Fund (IMF) on financial assistance worth tens of
billions of euros.
Concerns are growing that the huge deficit racked up by the one-time
“Celtic Tiger” as it tried to save its banks could have a knock-on
effect on other weak economies like Portugal, echoing the Greek crisis
earlier this year.
A spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Brian Cowen said the
Irish cabinet would meet “in the middle of the afternoon” to finalise
its austerity measures, with reports saying an announcement was expected
The cabinet would not discuss the international bailout “but the two
(issues) are related,” the spokesman said.
The new austerity drive is looking to save 15 billion euros up to
Dublin has pumped some 50 billion euros (68.4 billion dollars) into
the country’s stricken banks, pushing its public deficit to 32 percent
of output — more than 10 times the EU limit.
Cowen said Saturday that the four-year plan was “very well advanced”,
adding that its outline had already won the approval of EU economic
affairs commissioner Olli Rehn.
The international mission is subjecting Ireland’s books to forensic
analysis, with Cowen’s government trying to deflect fears about a loss
of sovereignty while defending a wafer-thin parliamentary majority.