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Well done, Mr Noonan – now help homeowners

CONFIRMATION that Ireland has secured a second deal to ease the bailout burden is another welcome boost to the nation. Congratulations are due to Finance Minister Michael Noonan and his officials, who have landed the seven-year loan extension just months after their success in renegotiating the Anglo Irish Bank promissory-note burden.

Neither deal will put real cash in the pockets of hardworking citizens in the short term, but by reducing the State's need to borrow, both are key steps in the long, hard slog back to sustainable finances.

The minister's determined campaigning has now seen him secure two of the three concessions he has targeted from Europe.

The third is to get Europe to finally come and carry some of the financial burden that was borne here to bail out the banks.

Clinching the third major deal from Europe may well be the hardest slog yet – particularly after banks in Cyprus were allowed to fail for the want of European money.

Still, the minister is now a seasoned EU campaigner and has momentum on his side.

Success breeds success and Mr Noonan has already been out of the traps to say he believes that a bank-debt deal can be secured in time, despite widespread doubts.

Meanwhile, the latest 'hand-up' for Ireland, of having seven more years to repay loans, means that we have been given extra time to put our financial house in order.

Ironically, the latest changes won from Europe to the bailout terms are just the kind of long-term and borrower-friendly solutions that state-owned banks remain reluctant to offer to struggling homeowners.

This weekend, as Mr Noonan rightly takes the plaudits for his latest coup, it is worth reminding the minister that many of those seeking relief from the burden of their onerous mortgage debts are no less genuine than he and his team were in their talks with the nation's creditors.

Irish Independent