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Ireland nears deal with ECB to ease its annual bank-bailout bill; 'bad bank' to be liquidated

The Irish government says an agreement with the European Central Bank is imminent to reduce the annual cost of the country's colossal bank bailout, an issue that could help to reduce Ireland's deficits and ease its escape from international aid.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan placed lawmakers on standby Wednesday night to pass an emergency bill authorizing the overnight liquidation of a government-owned "bad bank," the Irish Bank Resolution Corp.

The emerging plan would permit Ireland to replace its existing commitment to pay €3.06 billion ($4.1 billion) annually through 2023, and smaller amounts through 2031, with a new regime involving lower interest rates and longer-term repayments. The next repayment under existing terms is due March 31.

Ireland has lobbied ECB governors for more than a year for less costly terms.

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