Three years after international lenders loaned Ireland $92.7 billion to recover from its part of the international economic crisis, the country is the first afflicted eurozone state to exit its rescue program.
Ireland announced that it will not seek more funds from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. The rescue plan will end formally Sunday. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso seized on the exit as evidence the eurozone can stage a full recovery.
“Ireland’s success sends an important message—that with determination and support from partner countries we can and will emerge stronger from this deep crisis,” he said.
The Guardian reports:
Having implemented the spending cuts, asset sales and reforms required under the bailout, Ireland has been embraced again by the debt markets that shut out the country at the turn of the decade. It has raised enough debt independently to fund itself into 2015 and has more than €20bn (£17bn) in the bank.
News that Ireland will exit the rescue program was tempered with warnings from Irish officials that punishing austerity must continue in order to continue driving down the country’s debt. Finance Minister Michael Noonan said: “This isn’t the end of the road. This is a very significant milestone on the road.”
Earlier the employment minister, Richard Bruton, praised the way the Irish accepted their newly straitened circumstances without taking to the streets, as in Greece and Portugal, describing the “patriotism in the way people approached this crisis”.
Among the ordinary citizens portrayed as the true heroes of the last three years there was a mixture of resignation and wariness over what the exit would mean for them.
Michael McMorrow, a self-employed Dubliner, said: “It does appear that there are small signs of improvement – unemployment going down a little, property market starting to move a little, dormant shop units waking up a little, the tide of new charity shops in Dún Laoghaire [a seaside town in the south Dublin suburbs] slowing down a little.
“I’d love to believe that leaving the bailout is genuinely a step into the light, and maybe it is, but I’m too scarred to raise my hopes just yet.”