Ireland Bailout Exit 'Not End Of The Road'
Ireland's finance minister has warned of continuing pain ahead as the country prepares to officially exit its bailout.
At a news conference in Dublin ahead of Sunday's milestone, Michael Noonan told reporters "this isn't the end of the road" but pledged there would never be a repeat of its financial collapse because of the measures taken to prevent such a crisis.
He acknowledged the sacrifices made and losses suffered by ordinary people since the nation went cap-in-hand to the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a ?85bn rescue package in 2010.
He said: "The real heroes and heroines of the story are the Irish people.
"They have had their taxes increased, they have had their services cut drastically - some of them including public servants have had very serious pay cuts.
"Everybody has had cuts in their pensions as well. But they have continued to support the government."
Mr Noonan said those who had suffered the most were the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs and homes.
More than 200,000 people were forced to emigrate in the wake of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy - brought about by the bursting of Ireland's property bubble which crippled the banking sector.
The country will officially exit the bailout programme on December 15, allowing it to properly re-enter the money markets after raising just ?5bn in the past year.
The money it was loaned by the so-called troika - made up of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission - will start to be paid off in 2014.
Mr Noonan was speaking on the day the European Commission released its final tranche of bailout funding to the country while the IMF was to follow suit.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated the Irish government and people for the achievement.
"Thanks to their efforts and sacrifices, Ireland will now be able to finance itself through its own efforts," Mr Barroso said.
"Today's result would not have been possible without the solidarity and significant financial support of the other EU member states." Those countries also include the UK, as it provided separate bilateral loans.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said the bailout exit would give "much greater control over our own destiny into the future" but he cautioned there would be no spending spree.
Both he and Mr Noonan warned there will be no cause for the country to "go mad" on Monday following the exit, insisting the government will have to remain committed to making "prudent" economic and social decisions.
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