Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said that talks on Ireland's debt crisis between the Government and officials from the International Monetary Fund, the EU and the European Central Bank are 'going well'.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader John Gormley said the arrival of the IMF could be a 'positive', as it offered the opportunity to restructure our economy in a way that should have been done years ago.

Both were responding to calls from Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore for the Government to resign.

Earlier, Health Minister Mary Harney said the country's situation was completely unacceptable and very sad. She said the Government's four-year plan would be published early next week and was almost finished, following an eight-hour Cabinet meeting yesterday.

She rejected suggestions that the Government was to blame for the financial crisis, which she said was largely caused by a failure to enforce regulations.

Minister Harney also questioned whether the benchmarking process should have been introduced. She said that in hindsight, public sector pay should have been compared with public sector pay in other countries, instead of private sector pay here.

'Germany not pressuring Ireland on aid'

Germany is not pressuring Ireland to accept aid from the European Union's safety net and has great confidence in Dublin's plans to tackle its financial woes, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said today.

'The German government greatly supports the Irish government's policies and has great confidence in the courageous reform policies contained in the four year programme it is expected to present in early December,' he said.

Asked whether Germany wanted Ireland to raise its corporate tax rate, he said this was a matter to be decided by the Irish Government.

Even if Ireland accepts international help, it will be insufficient to calm markets that want to see a permanent anti-crisis mechanism put in place, Greece's finance minister said today.

'Even if Ireland is helped, it can not prevent the debt crisis from continuing,' George Papaconstantinou said at a conference in Frankfurt. He said investors 'are not convinced that the solutions are there' and 'will focus on other countries: Spain, Portugal'.

The yields on Spanish and Portuguese bonds have also risen sharply in past weeks along with those on Irish and Greek debt as investors have become increasingly nervous about struggling euro zone countries.

Papaconstantinou said putting into place a permanent European Union aid mechanism was needed to calm markets.

'The EU absolutely has to discuss a permanent aid system, or something like that,' the minister said.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble later echoed Papaconstantinou's sentiment, saying 'the earlier we get fixed the modalities of a rescue mechanism the earlier the markets will calm down.'

The EU created the €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) in May at the height over the crisis over Greece, but it runs for only three years.

Greece was forced to take a €110 billion rescue package from the EU and International Monetary Fund when it could no longer raise funds on bond markets except at exorbitant rates.

On bond markets this evening, the yield on Irish ten-year debt remained high at just over 8.43%.