DUBLIN – Ireland's finance chief says the country's exit from its international bailout this week should be celebrated as a eurozone triumph, but won't mean an end to austerity for the debt-battered Irish.
On Sunday, Ireland officially ends its reliance on a 67.5 billion-euro ($93 billion) loan program that European governments and the International Monetary Fund provided in 2010 to save the Irish from national bankruptcy.
Ireland is the first country in the 17-member eurozone to regain economic sovereignty after a bailout, in contrast to Greece, Cyprus and Portugal.
But Finance Minister Michael Noonan told a press conference Friday that investors in new Irish bonds would need to see the country continue to slash spending and deficits through 2015 at least.
Ireland has imposed austerity since a 2008 banking crisis.