EU figures have revealed that Ireland recorded the biggest budget deficit in the region -- well above Greece.
Ireland's deficit was 32.4pc of economic output --but the figures included the cost of injecting more cash into Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.
Greece had the second-biggest deficit at 10.5pc of GDP, while the UK was third with 10.4pc.
Spain and Portugal recorded just over 9pc.
Spokesman for EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn (above) said the figures were still a cause for concern, but they were improving.
However, the EU said that Greece's budget deficit remains a "cause for concern" as the 2010 shortfall exceeded Government estimates.
Senior adviser with Ernst & Young, Marie Diron said the 2010 deficit data provides a "stark reminder" of the steep road ahead.
She said last year was a year of announcements, while 2011 is the year when fiscal austerity starts being implemented in earnest.