Northern Ireland

Ireland bailout - more time for repayments

ECB building
Image caption The troika is made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund

The Irish Republic should get seven more years on average to repay its bailout, according to a draft paper.

The proposal is contained in a document from the bodies overseeing the bailout - the so-called troika.

It will be considered by EU finance ministers at an informal meeting in Dublin this weekend, according to Reuters news agency.

Spreading repayments over a longer time may give markets the confidence to lend to Ireland at lower rates.

As Ireland currently holds the presidency of the European Council, EU finance ministers will gather in Dublin this weekend for an informal meeting to consider issues such as the fall-out from the traumatic bailout for Cyprus and a possible aid programme for Slovenia.

In the plan, the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund suggest giving Ireland extra time to repay bailout loans may improve the chances of easing the country out of the EU-IMF programme and back into normal borrowing from the money markets.

The Republic's department of finance has declined to comment, but confirmed that the question of extending maturities will be discussed by EU finance ministers at this weekend's meeting in Dublin.

The idea of longer repayments was first considered by EU finance ministers in January, following a joint proposal from Ireland and Portugal. In March, ministers decided to ask the troika to come up with a paper that would focus on the 'best possible option' for both countries.

Now Reuters has reported that the troika document, to be considered by EU ministers this weekend, will propose extending the maximum average maturities on the bailout loans by seven years.

As this weekend's meeting is informal, no decisions will be taken. However, Ireland's finance minister Michael Noonan will be able to gauge what support there is for the measure and if further concessions can be secured.