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EU leaders vow to help Ireland with deal on €64bn debt

A DEAL on Ireland's debt is firmly on the cards as Europe shows signs of pulling out of recession this year, EU politicians have said.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that the worst is now behind us and wants to help Ireland.

And European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso is backing plans to reduce Ireland's €64bn debt.

President Van Rompuy was in Dublin for the launch of the Government's policy programme for Ireland's six-month EU presidency term.

He said the eurozone was no longer in "existential threat mode." But he added: "The worst is now behind us, but not all is right, far from it."

European governments need to focus on improving the economy and sustaining jobs growth as figures showed that 26 million are unemployed.

And he said that it was vital for the EU to aid the Government in tackling the thorny issue of the legacy bank debt.

Separately Mr Barroso said Ireland should grab the opportunity to "make its case better known" about a bank debt deal during this EU presidency term.

He said we have many cards to play, particularly identifying the "extraordinary resilience of the Irish economy and the capacity of the Irish people".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed that this is the time to push for a deal on bank debt.

"While we have a duty and a responsibility in terms of the European agenda, we have not lost sight of our immediate requirement, which is to deal with the question of the state of our bank debt, and that is the priority for Ireland's presidency," he said.