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Dáil gives approval to Ireland's EU-IMF bailout

The Dáil approves the €67.5bn loan package after what Brian Lenihan calls “a dreary and depressing debate”.

THE DÁIL HAS this afternoon approved Ireland’s €67.5bn loan package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Following just two hours of debate, the emergency funding measures were approved by the Dáil by 81 votes to 75.

Whipless Fianna Fáil backbencher Mattie McGrath voted against the deal, but his opposition was made null by the support of independent Joe Behan.

Proposing the approval of the bailout – which was placed on the Dáil agenda last week after Fianna Fáil sought to force opposition parties to take a definitive stand on the issue – finance minister Brian Lenihan insisted that the state was only funded until the second quarter of next year, and could not afford to borrow at market levels under the current rates.

There was no reason for people to suggest that organising a default – where investors holding bonds in the Irish state would see their assets effectively cancelled – was a “free” solution, he said, given the damage an organised default would cost Ireland in terms of its reputation.

He was backed up by European Affairs minister Dick Roche, who said Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny – having entered the Dáil only two years after Ireland joined the European Economic Community – should have “learned something as to how the EU operates”.

The European Commission, he said, had already acted on the best interests of Ireland and the other member states in securing the deal, so Fine Gael could not say they would get a “better deal” for Ireland.

Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan described the deal as a “downright obscenity” and said Ireland had been forced into the move by deciding to shoulder the liabilities of Ireland’s banks.

If the government was only dealing with sovereign debt, he said, it would have had no problem managing its liabilities.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the motion was “nothing more than a cynical exercise in Fianna Fáil tribalism”, with the motion only being put to force divisions in the opposition.

The government parties were “trying to make political capital out of the fact that they have bankrupted the country”, he said.

Before the vote was called, Lenihan said the debate had been, as he had suspected, “dreary and depressing”.

Willie O’Dea was the only absent TD on the government side; those absent on the opposition side were Fine Gael trio Alan Shatter, Dinny McGinley and Olwyn Enright, Labour’s Liz McManus and independent TD Noel Grealish.