Unknown officials a challenge for media

 

DELEGATIONS:WHILE THE arrival of IMF and EU officials into Dublin to begin talks with the Government about an international rescue package for Ireland is a hugely significant event, media covering their arrival found it a difficult assignment.

For one, none of the officials are public figures. Secondly, the status of the mission is fact-finding, so there were no press conferences, nor were there any “doorstep” interviews, or other official interviews.

The Department of Finance said it makes no comment on behalf of, or about the composition of visiting delegations. It directed those making queries about the IMF to contact the fund’s own office in Washington.

The European Commission office said it assumed delegations had arrived from the office of the EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn.

The Central Bank said it was engaged in discussions with officials from the ECB, the EU and the IMF, but would not disclose the nature of the talks.

It did not take too long for the officials to be tracked down by reporters and photographers. A large group of officials were spotted entering the headquarters of the Central Bank on Dame Street at around midday.

Later, Ajai Chopra, the deputy director of the IMF’s European department, was photographed as he walked from Merrion Row towards the Central Bank.

Mr Chopra, a specialist on boom-bust economies, was accompanied by Ashoka Mody, assistant director in the European department of the IMF.

Mr Mody has been a regular participant in the IMF’s “Article 4” delegation to Ireland, which produces an annual assessment of the country’s economic standing.

He also wrote an opinion piece for The Irish Timeslast July where he identified two necessary measures: the need for more powerful legal instruments to deal with failed banks; and the idea of an independent fiscal council.

This newspaper’s economics editor Dan O’Brien later wrote that Mr Mody would be “one of the IMF officials who would be centrally involved in the setting of policy in the event of a bailout”.

Sources in Brussels indicated the discussions could continue for at least another 10 days.