Ireland heads for end of bailout in final review
By Sam Cage
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Three years after going cap in hand to international lenders for a bail out, Ireland is set to step out on its own again.
The European Union and International Monetary Fund are due to sign off later on Thursday on the last part of a 85 billion euro ($114 billion) bailout, leaving Ireland to exit the process by the end of the year, the first crisis-hit euro zone country to do so.
Debts resulting from a rescue of its crashing bank sector in 2008 helped force Ireland into seeking aid from its EU partners and the European Union two years later as the euro zone's debt crisis deepened.
The official "troika" of lenders - the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF - are conducting their final review of the bailout and given Ireland has met every major target, are widely expected to release the final funds.
They are expected to release statements after about 1200 GMT (7:00 EDT).
The main issue remaining is whether the government will take out an insurance policy of asking for a precautionary credit line when the bailout ends. It has indicated in recent weeks it may go it alone as it has funding into 2015.
"The assessment of the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF is largely positive, though they remain wary of unresolved problems in the banking sector," said Dermot O'Leary, economist at Goodbody stockbrokers.
The process may also be complicated by German efforts to form a new government given that Berlin is one of the main contributors to aid programs. Continued...