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'We haven't lost our sovereignty -- we've pooled it'

OFFICIALS from the IMF and ECB will begin crawling over files in the Department of Finance tomorrow.

In a move not dissimilar to steps taken in Greece earlier this year, external experts are to arrive in Dublin to carry out a technical assessment of the banking crisis.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan hinted today that Ireland was on the fringe of a fresh bank bailout, stating: "Ireland is a small country and if the banking problem is too large for this country to manage then Europe will help."

He also denied that a bailout would effectively mean the country was losing its sovereignty.

"We share our sovereignty with Europe in relation to currency. We've pooled our sovereignty in that area," he said.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Lenihan said that no figures or deadlines had been finalised but admitted that talks were "urgent".

"Ireland has been part of the attack on the currency in recent weeks and it's important that we build up our defences," he said, but insisted that bank deposits were safe.

"We will co-operate with Europe in every respect to ensure that the situation is stabilised."

Although the Government has still resisted a bailout, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed today that they have been invited to talks.

"At the request of the Irish authorities, an IMF team will participate in a short and focused consultation, together with the European Commission, and the ECB, in order to determine the best way to provide any necessary support to address market risk," they said in a statement from Washington.



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Ministers from the euro-zone were joined this morning by most of the other 11 EU nations (not in the euro) as they attempted to hammer out a deal to shore up our basketcase banks.

Head of the emergency European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) Klaus Regling confirmed last night that he has already begun the groundwork for an Irish bailout.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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