Irish `safe haven' bank bill becomes law

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Irish President Mary McAleese has signed a sweeping bank-guarantee bill into law, granting protection to all deposits with Irish-owned banks.

The deal commits Ireland to insure unlimited deposits and the interbank debts of six Dublin institutions totaling 440 billion euros ($600 billion).

Irish bank shares have surged this week as the new government policy attracts foreign deposits and reassures financiers that it's safe to lend money to Irish banks. The European Union, Britain and other EU states complain that Ireland is promoting unfair competition because the guarantee leaves out foreign owned banks.

The president's signature Thursday followed a nonstop overnight debate of the bill in Ireland's two houses of parliament.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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