The finance minister says Ireland's 2011 deficit is back under 10 percent and the country has passed all the austerity goals needed to keep international loans flowing from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Michael Noonan gave his upbeat assessment ahead of Thursday's Dublin press conference by senior officials from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. The troika officials have been in Dublin since Jan. 10 reviewing whether the Irish are sticking to severe deficit-cutting targets.

Noonan says Ireland's 2011 deficit will fall below 10 percent, better than the bailout agreement's target of 10.6 percent. The November 2010 agreement demands that Ireland reduce its deficit to below 3 percent, the normal eurozone limit, by 2015.