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February 19, 2014 AT 10:04 AM
Ireland is the first euro zone country to emerge from a bailout brought on by unsustainable debt, but the long slog of cutting back what it owes is only just starting for its 4.6 million austerity-hit people. Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, said conditions in Ireland were bad. How its succeeds or fails in this will be a guide to how easily other heavily indebted states such as Portugal and Greece will be able to ease up on austerity as they strive to escape from their own bailout programs. Growth has returned in Ireland. Unemployment is falling and Irish debt is attracting bumper demand. But the recovery remains fragile, exposed to shocks elsewhere and needing more money to be taken from the economy this year to complete rebalancing.