Fresh austerity drive for Ireland

Ireland will seek savings well above an initial target of €3bn (£2.6bn) in its 2011 budget, finance minister Brian Lenihan said yesterday. Ireland is under pressure to demonstrate it can shrink the worst budget deficit in the EU to allay concerns the former "Celtic Tiger" economy may need external assistance to shore up its finances. It is understood Lenihan will seek up to €4.5bn in adjustments in the 2011 budget, his fourth austerity plan in two years. The task facing the government, the most unpopular administration in modern Irish history, has been compounded by a less rosy global outlook which will likely trip up a return to growth in the heavily trade-dependent Irish economy this year.