Draghi says ECB has given 'extraordinary' support to Irish banks


European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has said the Frankfurt-based institution had given “extraordinary” support to Irish banks since the outbreak of the crisis in late 2008.

In a letter to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath sent late last week, Mr Draghi also said he was “fully aware” of the resilience displayed by Irish citizens in the face of “a necessary but difficult adjustment process”.

Mr Draghi was responding to a letter from Mr McGrath asking the ECB to expedite its deliberations on renegotiating the terms of the promissory note for the former Anglo Irish Bank which necessitates a payment of €3.1 billion each year by Ireland.

In his letter, Mr McGrath said he sensed the resilience of the Irish people was beginning to wane.

“There is a widespread view that, while Irish people have done all that is asked of them to bring about an economic recovery, this is not being reciprocated by action from our European partners to underpin what has been achieved to date.”

He added that there was acute frustration at the lack of progress in securing a bank debt deal for Ireland.

In his response Mr Draghi said the ECB had a “keen interest” in developments surrounding the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank) and its promissory notes, which he pointed out were non-marketable instruments.

“The ECB continues to be in close contact with the Central Bank of Ireland and will continue to discuss with the Irish authorities on what may be achievable . . . within the confines of the treaties that govern our monetary union.”

In more general terms he said: “Over recent years the support from the euro system to Irish banks, in form of monetary policy and emergency liquidity loans, has been extraordinary.”

Mr McGrath said yesterday Minister for Finance Michael Noonan needed to hold face-to-face talks with the ECB to get the deal on promissory notes over the line.