Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said the immediate winding up of Anglo Irish Bank could cost €70bn or more, which 'would not be in the interest of Irish taxpayers'.

He added, however, that the Government is anxious to bring the issue to finality as soon as its discussions with the European Union have been completed.

Mr Cowen said the Government was at one on this issue and the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan would be attending a meeting with finance ministers in the EU early next week.

Mr Lenihan will be reporting to the Government on the issue again next Wednesday when he returns.

Mr Cowen said the Government is at an advanced stage in discussions with the European Commission at the moment and final documentation has been sent to the Commission on the matter.

The Taoiseach reiterated that minimising exposure to the taxpayer, which is already considerable, is the Government’s priority.