Ireland exits bailout but fete on hold

AFP-JIJI

Ireland on Sunday became the first eurozone nation to leave its bailout program. But celebrations were muted, as the country faces more austerity despite the end of the three-year rescue package.

Dublin turned to the International Monetary Fund and European Union in November 2010 for an €85 billion ($115 billion) lifeline following a banking crash and one of history’s worst housing bubbles. After painful belt-tightening, Ireland is returning unaided to the international lending markets. Eurozone strugglers Greece, Portugal and Cyprus remain locked into the bailout process.

With the end of the bailout, Dublin will now have greater control over economic decision-making after three years of stringent oversight by the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank.