ECB withdraws offer to assist banking inquiry

Chairman Ciaran Lynch ‘extremely disappointed’ with stance of ECB

The refusal of the European Central Bank to co-operate with the Dáil's banking inquiry has been strongly criticised by members of the committee.

The committee received correspondence from the ECB this week confirming that it was declining to participate in its work.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said it was a "pathetic" stance from the ECB. He added: "How are people expected to put their trust in this institution? It is a recorded fact that the ECB played a central role in the bailout and the ultimate cost of the guarantee.

“They are making a mistakein not attending in my view. But this won’t keep us from the rest of our work.”


Vice-president of the ECB Vítor Constâncio had offered to attend an “informal exchange of views” with the inquiry regarding the crash.

The ECB resolved in February to allow Mr Constâncio to make an Oireachtas committee appearance but only if it took place outside the inquiry process.

It was due to take place in the Dáil’s finance committee but that has now officially been ruled out.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath questioned whether they had any intention of appearing.

“The ECB’s decision not to co-operate with the inquiry shows their contempt for the principle of accountability and undoubtedly results in a deficit in the work of the inquiry.

“The committee now will have no option but to reach conclusions on issues relating to the role of the ECB in the crisis without hearing any evidence from them.

"Looking back, I don't believe the ECB ever had any intention of coming before the inquiry and the very limited engagement we had with Mr Trichet was done on his terms."

Chairman Ciarán Lynch said he was extremely disappointed with the position of the ECB. He acknowldged the ECB is outside the Irish jurisdiction and therefore cannot be compelled to appear.

“The response is disappointing given that the committee made every effort to accommodate the ECB and also to facilitate it in reviewing and responding to statements and evidence given at our public hearings which referenced the role and influence of the ECB.

“It is unfortunate and unsatisfactory that ECB has chosen not to engage with the committee. A response and engagement from the ECB would have added to our final report and its stance is therefore regrettable.”

Public hearings will this week come to a conclusion. Former International Monetary Fund official Ajai Chopra, who was responsible for the design and monitoring of Ireland's financial bailout programme, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan are to attend.

Alan Ahearne, special advisor to the late minister of finance Brian Lenihan, and Alan Gray, relating to his roles as an advisor to former taoiseach Brian Cowen, are also scheduled this week.