Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he remains hopeful of securing a deal on Ireland's bank debt before the December Budget.

He said it would be helpful from his point of view to have agreement before then.

However, he said the really "painful" deadline was the end of March, when €3bn would have to be paid over.

During the week, the finance ministers of Germany, Finland and the Netherlands issued a statement that could threaten an expected deal on Ireland's bank debt.

The three appeared to have backtracked on an agreement enshrined in last June's summit of EU leaders, which the Government said would lead to a long-awaited deal.

Their joint statement said the new permanent EU bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, would only be able to deal with future banking problems, and not those which occurred in the past.

However, the Department of Finance said the statement was only part of ongoing discussions, which will continue over the coming weeks between eurozone finance ministers and heads of government.