The Minister for Finance has said 'clear blue water' has been put between the new Anglo Irish Bank and the bank as it was before nationalisation.

Speaking on RTE's 6.1 News, Brian Lenihan said the bank's assets exceed its liabilities by more than €4 billion, adding that at present the bank's loans are generating enough to pay the deposits and interest on the deposits.

Defending the decision to nationalise, Mr Lenihan said if the government were to permit the bank to fail it would be saying to depositors, businesses, citizens and people in this and other economies that Ireland is closed for business.

He said huge reputational damage had been done to the bank and the Irish banking system by the conduct of the former chairman and members of his staff. But once the bank is nationalised, he said, a new board will be appointed to the bank, it will be maintained as a going concern and is not about to be wound up.

Mr Lenihan said the assessment of its worth would be published once completed by the assessor. Asked about the possibility of using the bank as a 'skip' for bad debt, Mr Lenihan said the Government would have to make a strategic decision after next Tuesday about how it uses the bank for the benefit of taxpayers and the economy.