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Lenihan Says Aid, Budget Weren’t Forced on Ireland

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said European authorities didn’t dictate the government’s budget as part of an aid package agreed at the start of this week.

“It’s the government’s own plan,” he said in an interview with Dublin-based RTE television today. “It wasn’t written by the International Monetary Fund.”

Ireland agreed on an aid plan with the European Union and the IMF on Nov. 28 to help it finance itself and cover bank-bailout costs. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said today the decision to seek financial assistance was made by Ireland.

Asked about pressure from European authorities, Lenihan said Ireland made the application “formally and legally,” though he noted that the central bank had “concerns” about Irish banks’ reliance on ECB funding.

“The important point is we have a program, an agreed program, that has credibility in the eyes of the international community and that can enable us to emerge from our difficulties,” Lenihan said. “It is fair to say that the central bank were very concerned about the amount of money they’d been pumping in to the Irish banks.”

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