Ireland Looks to Exit EU Bailout, Ease Off Austerity Plan

Would be first country to exit plan


Ireland eased back on its austerity program on Tuesday, giving voters a modest break from six years of pain as it aims to become the first euro zone country to pull out of an international bailout.

Presenting the 2014 budget, Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced Dublin would impose fewer savings than originally planned on a people worn down by the years of tax increases, spending cuts, high unemployment and heavy debts.

"By the time the majority of the measures that I have announced today become law on the first of January next, I am confident that Ireland will have left the EU/IMF program," Noonan told parliament. "We will have closed this chapter of Ireland's history."