Ireland has pulled out of the IMF/EU bailout program, making it the first nation to work its way free of rescue loans. However, the country has yet to break free from the strict austerity measures which have characterized the bailout period.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny will be addressing the nation in a
landmark speech at 21:30 GMT on national channel RTÉ One, as the
three year program draws to a close. He is expected to thank the
nation and commend its efforts through the austerity period. The
strict austerity measures were imposed to meet the conditions and
targets of the 85 billion euro loan.
The Troika - consisting of the IMF, European Central Bank, and European Commission - has carried out 12 intense reviews since Ireland began receiving the bailout money, in order to make sure the country was toeing the line.
The nation of 4.6 million people has been suffering from rampant unemployment and tax increases. Emigration spiked in recent months, with 75,800 people between the ages of 15 and 44 choosing to leave the country last year.
Ireland's finance minister, Michael Noonan, commended the “real heroes and heroines” at a news conference on Friday.
“They endured three years of very deep austerity – you had salaries going down, and you had…a lot of deep spending cuts,” RT’s Tesa Arcilla reported from Ireland on Sunday.
“This today is symbolically stepping out of what they [the government] call ‘the shackles of the Troika,’” she added.
The Irish economy is still under threat, with weak domestic demand eroded by the austerity measures that came with the bailout. Since foreign demand is also subdued, the country’s recovery remains in question.
“This isn't the end of the road. This is a very significant milestone on the road,” Noonan stated. “But we must continue with the same types of policies.”
Arcilla warned that Ireland still has a great deal of progress to make. “When you go just one hour out of the capital, the story is really different. You still see high unemployment, and that’s not something that they can quickly change overnight, and again, the government has already said that austerity policies are going to be continuing,” she observed.
“This is going to be a psychological or morale boosting success in terms of exiting….economically there’s still a long, long way to go.”
Ireland asked for a bailout from the Troika in November 2010, when the country was on the brink of bankruptcy. It received 67.5 billion euro, implementing austerity measures in exchange for the aid.
Ireland successfully passed its final review of the 85 billion euro bailout in November, with the Troika giving the country the green light to exit.