Ireland does not expect to tap the European Central Bank's new bond-buying programme before it emerges from its EU/IMF bailout at the end of next year.

And after that only in case of emergency, its finance minister said today.

If Dublin's European partners deliver on a deal to cut Ireland's legacy bank debt, Ireland will be able to make a full return to long-term bond markets without using the ECB's Outright Monetary Transaction programme, Michael Noonan told Reuters.

Yesterday, the IMF said approval by European leaders of a plan to use the EU's permanent bailout fund the ESM to invest in Irish banks would help Ireland successfully exit the bailout programme to the benefit of Europe as a whole.

That is one of the key conclusions from the IMF's latest staff report on Ireland.

This Article IV review, as it is called, is part of the membership conditions of the IMF and is nothing to do with the ongoing financial assistance programme.

The IMF urges the EU to follow up on its broad agreement back in June that the ESM can directly take stakes in member state banks.

That is significant because it does not involve lending to countries so that they may in turn recapitalise their banks - in that instance the debt goes on the government balance sheet.

Replacing state funding with ESM funds here could improve Ireland's ratio of debt to economic output or GDP.

That is a key indicator to investors of a country's ability to repay its borrowings.