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Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 14:14 GMT
Irish consumers soak up new currency
Charile McCreevey
Mr McCreevey (centre) launches the euro in Dublin
The launch of the new euro currency in the Irish Republic on Tuesday has been described by the country's finance minister as "historic".

Charlie McCreevy said it was proof of the republic's economic health that it was able to sign up for the euro without the UK joining.

It is estimated that 80% of the Republic's ATMs will be dispensing the currency by the end of the day.

The Irish punt will continue to exist in dual circulation with the new notes and coins until 9 February.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern: Expected to shop with euros on Tuesday

Eleven other European countries are getting used to the new currency with Sweden, Denmark and the UK the only members of the EU not to join the monetary union.

On Monday, security vans continued to deliver the new currency to retailers while banks closed for the day to prepare cash machines for the euro.

Due to New Year's Day being a bank holiday in the Irish Republic, the country had a slight head start of the rest of the 12 Euro zone nations, when it officially launched its new currency.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, is expected to use his first euros at lunchtime in a newsagents in his constituency of Drumcondra in north Dublin.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Shane Harrison reports from Dublin
"The birth of the euro means the death of the Irish punt"

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