Ireland asks for €90bn EU bailout

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British taxpayers face a multimillion pound bill to help bail out Ireland which last night asked for an international financial rescue package of as much as €90bn (£77.3bn), after seven days of denying it would need to succumb to the humiliation of a bailout for its crippled banking system.

The three-year loan will be handed over by the IMF and the EU, whose members last night agreed to support the climbdown by embattled Irish prime minister Brian Cowen.

Additional loans are also being considered by the UK and Sweden.

While the precise scale of the loan will be hammered out in the coming days, British taxpayers are likely to contribute in three separate ways – through the IMF; an existing EU mechanism; as well as a bilateral loan – all of which could amount to an estimated £7bn.

The chancellor, George Osborne, participated in a series of emergency calls with EU finance ministers yesterday evening after a dramatic day in which Ireland conceded, for the first time, that it could not tackle its ailing banking system without international help.

A Treasury spokesman said Britain – whose banks have £150bn of exposure to Ireland – would be "closely involved in discussions on the scale and type of assistance as they develop" while the EU and IMF made clear they were standing ready to arrange a loan.

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