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Ireland unveils 6th straight austerity budget with ?3.5 billion ($4.5 bln) in cuts, tax hikes

Ireland's government has unveiled plans for €3.5 billion ($4.5 billion) in new taxes and spending cuts in the debt-burdened country's sixth straight austerity budget.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan says Ireland must keep slashing its deficits down to the eurozone limit of 3 percent of GDP. He says Ireland expects deficits of 8.2 percent this year and 7.5 percent next year, but only if the country can deliver stronger economic growth despite deepening cuts.

His 2013 budget unveiled Wednesday includes a new property tax, higher taxes on the incomes of the most well-to-do pensioners, and €2 billion in cuts to government spending.

Ireland has endured increasing austerity since 2008, when a credit-fueled property boom went bust. The government was forced to nationalize five banks and negotiate an international bailout.