EU ministers to discuss Ireland bailout

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European Union finance ministers will meet on Sunday to discuss an 85 billion euro bailout for the Irish economy.

Chancellor George Osborne will join fellow ministers in Brussels for the hastily-arranged meeting, after 50,000 people marched through the streets of Dublin to protest against the country's austerity budget.

Ireland's Communication Minister, Eamon Ryan, said it was probably an outline agreement for the rescue deal would be concluded before the markets open on Monday morning.

It is understood the final figures will be approved at a conference call of the EU finance ministers and a meeting of the Irish Cabinet.

However, Mr Ryan rejected reports the interest rate for a loan from the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be as high as 6.7 per cent for nine years.

He said: "I think that figure was inaccurate and I think it was unfortunate it went out there because I'm sure it scared a hell of a lot of people."

He added: "There are still negotiations going on on that sort of level of detail. It's not fixed yet and we'll have to wait and see until it's actually done. The overall figure has to make sense for us in that we are able to pay it back."

On Saturday, public service workers, students and left wing political groups marched through Dublin under the banner of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to demand a better and fairer way.

Thousands packed the capital's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, for a mass rally outside the historic GPO - where the Proclamation of Independence was read in 1916.

About 400 activists later picketed outside the Dail where a small group threw bottles, paint and bangers during a tense stand-off with gardai. Masked men also set fire to a poster of Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

A Garda spokesman said the protest passed peacefully, with just one man arrested and released.

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