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Cowen insists IMF talks are not to formalise bailout

An aggressive Taoiseach tells the Six One news that the talks in Dublin tomorrow are to examine all options.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

AN AGGRESSIVE BRIAN COWEN has insisted that the tomorrow’s talks between Department of Finance officials and representatives from the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission are not preparing the way for Ireland to receive an international bailout.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One news, Cowen insisted that the discussions – which move to Dublin tomorrow after proceeding in Brussels earlier in the week – were an attempt by the government to examine its options in order to “get the best possible outcome for the country”.

Those talks would examine a number of options the Irish government could pursue, he said – though he refused to be drawn on whether such options included accepting a multi-billion-euro payout from international sources, or from the UK, in order to provide extra liquidity for the banking sector.

Listen to the full Six One interview >

Asked if one of the outcomes from the meetings could include a bailout, Cowen insisted:

I want to get away from this word game… there are sensible, precautionary discussions taking place at the moment [in order to ascertain] what are the best options.

There’s no one simple solution – I need to know the details of any suggestions that there are… we shouldn’t see this as a threatening situation.

“Levelling it”

Cowen once again attacked some media outlets for reporting that emergency funding had already been sought, saying some sources had appeared to insist on reporting a bailout despite his government having taken every opportunity to refute the claims.

“I am levelling it with the Irish people – it’s in everyone’s interest that we position ourselves to get the best possible outcome,” Cowen said.

The Taoiseach also spurned suggestions that his ministers had misled the public as to whether any discussions – precautionary or otherwise – were taking place at all, following up on earlier claims in the Dáil that ministers had only said Ireland was “not involved in negotiations”.

When Dermot Ahern, for one, had said that “absolutely nothing was taking place”, Cowen said, he had indicated that discussions were being held “at an official level on a technical nature”.

Cowen earlier came under sustained fire in the Dáil from opposition leaders who accused him of “handing over the deeds” to the country.

Earlier, Europe’s economics commissioner Olli Rehn had insisted that Ireland’s banking sector faced a liquidity crisis – apparently at odds with the views of finance minister Brian Lenihan – and said that the ECB could not offer emergency funding directly to the banks, but could only fund the state itself.

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