French President Francois Hollande has described Ireland as a special case in its quest to secure a deal on its bank debt.

He said that Germany recognised this as well and it would be taken into account by eurozone finance ministers as they begin negotiations on the role of the EU's permanent bailout fund in extending support to banks.

"I said Ireland was a special case and should be treated as such," Mr Hollande told reporters after a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Paris.

The Taoiseach said that what made Ireland a special case was the fact that it had a European position "imposed upon it" when the banking sector collapsed.

Mr Kenny said: "In regard to Ireland being a special case, our banks have been recapitalised.

"Ireland was the first and only country which had a European position imposed upon it, in the sense that there wasn't the opportunity if the Government wished to do it their way by burning bondholders.

"The Irish public and Irish taxpayer were required to service the full extent of the debt, which was a situation which we're trying to reduce by the negotiations which are going on."

The French leader also confirmed that President Michael D Higgins would visit France to attend an exhibition next February.

Today’s meeting between Mr Kenny and President Hollande was arranged before the EU summit in Brussels last week.

After the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there would be no retrospective direct recapitalisation of banks by the ESM, only future debt.

This was seen as a setback for Irish hopes of securing a deal on legacy debt.

However, a German government spokesman later said they would continue to co-operate closely with Ireland.

Gerry Adams sees no 'progress' in joint statement

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said the statement last night from Mr Kenny and Ms Merkel on Ireland's bailout programme was not progress.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Adams said that what the Taoiseach did what was necessary, but it could not be deemed as progress.

He said: "What is progress is when we get a writedown, when we get our money back."

The statement from the two leaders came following a 30-minute phone call yesterday afternoon.

They reaffirmed a commitment to seeking improvements to the Irish bailout programme.

They said: "[We] discussed the unique circumstances behind Ireland's banking and sovereign debt crisis, and Ireland's plans for a full return to the markets.

"In this regard [we] reaffirmed the commitment from 29 June to task the Eurogroup to examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with a view to further improving the sustainability of the well performing adjustment programme.

"[We] recognise in this context, that Ireland is a special case, and that the Eurogroup will take that into account."

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has welcomed the joint statement issued last night.

Speaking at the University of Limerick today, Mr Noonan said the statement reflected what they had been told in private, and he never shared the degree of panic that swept the country over the weekend, as he said they knew they had an understanding from 29 June.

He said the Government is trying very hard to renegotiate and unwind the deal on bank debt done by the former government.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said sorting out the situation would be "a long road".

He said that the country first had to get its economic house in order, and while it was "not there yet", it was "getting there".

Mr Quinn said: "Because we are getting there, the Germans and others recognise that because we were the first to go into a programme, and because the previous government socialised our private bank debt, and put a noose around the neck of the people of this republic, it's a noose that frankly if we don't get some relief, in time we won't be sustainable as an independent state."

Fianna Fáil's Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said that "only time will tell" what the statement will mean for Ireland.

Mr McGrath said the communiqué sent out a "mixed message" and while it is to be welcomed, it is open to interpretation.