'The heroes of today are the Irish people'

Ireland's finance minister thanks the Irish people for their extraordinary efforts as the country exits its bailout programme

The heroes and heroines of Ireland's international bailout programme were the ordinary people, the country's finance minister has said.

As the once financially-crippled nation marked its exit from the EU/IMF 85 billion euro loan programme, Michael Noonan said those who have suffered the most were the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs and homes, and young people who were forced to emigrate.

"The real heroes and heroines of the story are the Irish people," Mr Noonan said.

"They have had their taxes increased, they have had their services cut drastically, some of them including public servants have had very serious pay cuts.

"Everybody has had cuts in their pensions as well. But they have continued to supported the Government."

The country will officially exit the programme on December 15 and re-enter the money markets.

Ireland's finances, budgets and policies have been under intense scrutiny since the country agreed to a massive loan package in 2010.

Its debt masters, a Troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and European Commission, have carried out 12 intense reviews over the last three years and imposed a series of tough targets. All of which were met by the state.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin described the bailout exit as a milestone that many thought Ireland would never reach.

"But we've reached this milestone and we have a much greater control over our own destiny into the future," Mr Howlin said.

"And that is a huge testament to the fortitude and the forbearance of the people of Ireland, who rolled up their sleeves and understood that a job of work had to be done."

Both he and Mr Noonan warned there will be no cause for the country to "go mad" on Monday following the exit, insisting the Government will have to remain committed to making "prudent" economic and social decisions.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin described the bailout exit as a milestone that many thought Ireland would never reach.

"But we've reached this milestone and we have a much greater control over our own destiny into the future," Mr Howlin said.

"And that is a huge testament to the fortitude and the forbearance of the people of Ireland, who rolled up their sleeves and understood that a job of work had to be done."

Both he and Mr Noonan warned there will be no cause for the country to "go mad" on Monday following the exit, insisting the Government will have to remain committed to making "prudent" economic and social decisions.

PA

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