DUBLIN, May 10 (Reuters) - Ireland can keep cutting its budget deficit as planned despite other euro zone member states having come under pressure to accelerate their consolidation efforts, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said on Monday. "The question of acceleration of deficit reduction strategies ... is not directed to Ireland," Cowen told Today FM radio in an interview. At more than 14 percent of gross domestic product, Ireland had the biggest budget deficit in the European Union in 2009 compared to the size of its economy, but its reform efforts have differentiated it from other euro zone strugglers such as Greece. "We have had first mover advantage," Cowen said. "That's not to say for one moment that we are out of the woods." Earlier on Monday, the finance ministry said Ireland saw no need to make use of the $1 trillion global emergency rescue package agreed by global policy makers to stabilise the euro. Without the rescue deal, there could have been a risk of contagion from Greece to other parts of Europe, Cowen said. "It is a contingency measure, it is sending a signal to the markets that the European Union is serious about defending the currency and it has had that effect," Cowen said. "The euro strengthened ... we saw bond markets unfreezing." (Reporting by Andras Gergely; Editing by Ron Askew) Keywords: EUROZONE/IRELAND (firstname.lastname@example.org; +35315001518; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.
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