As tens of thousands protested in Dublin against the government’s austerity programme, officials in Brussels said agreement on a multi-billion euro bailout was “very close”.
EU finance ministers meet on Sunday to seal the loan for Ireland, which will come with conditions attached.
In Dublin they came from all over the country to vent their anger.
“Our government has sold us out,” said protester Marie McCormack. “They are penalising people at the bottom of the heap for the mistakes that they made.”
Another demonstrator, Tom Coleman, added:
“We don’t want to pay for private business, private industry and corrupt government. And the people are going to pay. And we are not happy, we don’t want the IMF in here. The IMF created this situation and they are in for money and they don’t care about the future, they don’t care about Ireland.”
The government plans to cut the minimum wage, welfare benefits and public sector jobs, and raise taxes to save 15 billion euros over four years.
It has described as “inaccurate” reports that the borrowing rate on the loan could be as much as 6.7%, higher than the rate charged to Greece. The figure, it said, had not yet been fixed and had to be one that Ireland could afford to repay.
Opposition parties have attacked the government’s handling of the crisis.
There are doubts over its ability to get the budget through parliament.
It is expected that the bailout talks will be concluded before the markets re-open on Monday.