Irish divided on bailout, say sovereignty lost -poll

* Governing party voters most supportive of rescue package

* Most taxpayers say 2011 budget unfair

DUBLIN, Dec 18 (BestGrowthStock) – Just over 50 percent of Irish
people support a multi-billion euro EU/IMF rescue package but
believe the country has lost its sovereignty by accepting the
external assistance, according to a poll published on Saturday.

Ireland was forced to resort to the IMF, the European Union
and European Central Bank to negotiate an 85 billion euro ($113
billion) loan after a banking sector crisis drove the economy
into the ground and sent ripples across the wider euro zone.

Irish taxpayers face years of spending cuts and tax hikes,
as part of a four-year austerity drive designed to squeeze 15
billion euros from the worst deficit in Europe, beginning with
2011 budget’s record package of 6 billion euros in adjustments.

When asked if they supported the bailout, 51 percent of
Irish people said they welcomed it, 37 percent did not, and 12
percent did not know, an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showed.

Fifty-six percent of the 1,000 voters sampled said Dublin
had surrendered its sovereignty by accepting the deal, while 33
percent said it had not and 11 percent had no opinion.

Brian Cowen, the most unpopular Irish prime minister in
recent history, is expected to lose a general election held
early next year, over his handling of the crisis.

Opinion polls indicate the opposition centre-right Fine Gael
party will form a coalition government with the centre-left
Labour after the next election, possibly in February or March.

Parliament approved the bailout on Wednesday in the face of
opposition threats to renegotiate the deal, but given Ireland’s
dependence on the rescue package to shore up its banks and
finance its deficit, and having signed up to its tough fiscal
targets, their room for manoeuvre may be limited. [nLDE6BE19I]

Saturday’s poll showed voters who back Cowen’s Fianna Fail
party were the most supportive of the bailout and a majority of
them did not believe that Dublin had given up its sovereignty.

Fine Gael and Labour voters also supported the bailout, but
said sovereignty had been surrendered, the Irish Times said.

Expressing disgruntlement with the severe austerity measures
they will face, 68 percent of voters said they thought the Dec.
7 budget was unfair against 27 percent who thought it was fair.

A poll held earlier this week showed support for Fianna Fail
and Cowen had reached record lows, with satisfaction with the
way the government is doing its job at just 8 percent.

The Irish Times said the latest poll was held on Monday and
Tuesday, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Irish divided on bailout, say sovereignty lost -poll