Six billion of cuts announced as Ireland attempts economic turnaround

Ireland's Finance Minister Brian Lenihan today claimed the country's economy will grow slightly this year as he unveiled 6 billion euro (£5 billion) savings in the most draconian budget in the history of the state.

"Our actions to stabilise the public finances have made progress," the minister said.

Mr Lenihan said Exchequer figures painted a picture of a country returning to growth after a prolonged and deep recession.

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Opening his budget 2011 speech he told the Dail (parliament) that the economy, as measured by gross domestic product, would increase by an average of 2.75% by 2014.

Mr Lenihan said Ireland needed the help of the International Monetary Fund to break the vicious cycle that threatened the national finances and banking system.

"Without this support, there would have been serious doubts about the ability of the state to raise funds at reasonable cost to pay for key public services and to provide a functioning banking system to support economic activity," he said.

"That is the reality."