Irish unveil austerity budget, seek bailout exit

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DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland is unveiling its seventh straight austerity budget, a plan to slash 2.5 billion euros ($3.4 billion) from next year's deficit and pave the way for the nation to escape from its international bailout.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan told lawmakers Tuesday that the government is hopeful of resuming normal borrowing on bond markets by December. The move would come three years after Ireland was forced by the crippling cost of bank rescues to seek emergency loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Ireland has been raising taxes and slashing expenditure since 2008, when a Celtic Tiger boom fueled by cheap eurozone credit ended, bringing six domestic banks to the brink of failure. Ireland was forced in 2010 to abandon the bond markets when its own borrowing costs soared.

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