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How will the respective parties deal with burning issue of bondholders?

FINE Gael wants to do a deal with bondholders to potentially save €17bn.

Michael Noonan says that most of the bonds held by leading banks, hedge funds and private investors have already been sold on at a discount, making it difficult to argue that speculators should get full value on these investments. "We are not in a position to act unilaterally now," he says.

"We can't do it on our own but we hope that European policy might change.

"After the election we need to position ourselves to give us a negotiating position.

"Other European states agree with us on this. It is not a question of Fine Gael moving unilaterally against bond holders."

Labour's Joan Burton says that as Finance Minister her job would be to ensure that taxpayers get as much value as possible from the billions they have poured into the banks -- and that includes inflicting some pain on the bondholders.

"Taxpayers will lose money on bank asset sales and de-leveraging while bondholders are making no contribution to the restructuring at the moment," she says.

The new government should re-open the EU/IMF deal to secure less onerous, but more achievable terms, according to Ms Burton.

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