Ireland's finance minister asks government to back bailout

Ireland's Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, is to ask his government to apply for a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe.

He said this afternoon that he plans to ask Cabinet colleagues to agree to the unprecedented financial rescue on Sunday.

"I believe that it is important that this State continues to fund itself in a stable way, that economic continuity is preserved, that there is no danger to the borrowing which the State requires to make in its own interest", he said.

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"And also and above all, and the issue that has been highlighted this week, that our banking sector is stabilised.

"For all those reasons I will be recommending to the Government that we should apply to a programme and open formal negotiations."

Mr Lenihan refused to disclose how much money the country would be looking for, but a bailout is expected to run to tens of billions of euros.

Ireland is currently spending 19 billion euro more than it receives in taxes and revenues.