BRUSSELS Jan 22 (Reuters) - Ireland could apply for support from the European Central Bank's secondary bond market purchase programme, but only once it has completed two longer-term bond issues, Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said on Tuesday.
"There is no inhibition on Ireland applying for OMT (ECB purchases), but we would need to be fully back in the market first," Noonan told a news briefing after a meeting of European Union finance ministers.
He said he would discuss with the Irish debt management office the possible timing of "two issuances of nine-year paper, or its equivalent, and then we're in the position to apply".
"But as I understand the OMT... it's available for application for countries who are market participants in the bond market and then it would be judged on a case by case basis, but it's a bit early yet. We're not quite at that position yet," he added.
The European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, said the Commission was working on a series of options to help Ireland and Portugal return to markets, and that the ECB's bond purchase programme was one possibility.