The Dublin government tonight confirmed that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to its request for a financial aid package.
After an emergency Cabinet meeting lasting several hours in Dublin and talks with EU states, ministers signed off on plans for the rescue package.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan earlier conceded the bank crisis is too big for the 26-County state too handle.
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin tonight, a sombre Cowen said the rescue package, which will run for three years, will be tied to a restructuring of the banks and a deficit reduction plan.
As a spontaneous protest grew outside Government Buildings despite a heavy-handed Garda presence, Cowen told the assembled media that the size of the bailout will be decided during the negotiations. Estimates in the media of the likely loan facility have varied between 50 and 120 billion euro.
He also said his administration will publish its four-year plan for 15 billion euro in cuts and taxes next week.
In Brussels, EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said the finance ministers welcomed Dublin’s request for aid.
“Providing assistance to Ireland is warranted to safeguard the financial stability in Europe,” he said.
Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain earlier said that the Fianna Fail/Green Cabinet had no political authority and no democratic mandate to act in the name of the Irish people and “to incur further massive debt on this and future generations”.
He said the announcements today confirmed “what was being denied for the past ten days by this Government - that the Government is to put the State further in hock to international money-lenders.
“The cost is to be savage and widespread cutbacks that will plunge large sections of the Irish people into poverty.
“If they are not savage enough for the IMF and the EU they will be deepened further. Social supports, public services and jobs will be devastated if this proceeds.
“Fianna Fail, the so-called republican party, having squandered the people’s money, has now sold out the remnants of Irish sovereignty in order to continue bailing out the banks. The Green Party has been reduced to a tattered mudguard for their corrupt senior partners.
“This Cabinet should resign and there should be a general election.”