Michael Noonan: I’m willing to overrule Finance officials and release ECB letter on bailout

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan says he is willing to overrule civil servants in his department and release a letter from the ECB which forced Ireland into a bailout.

Mr Noonan was speaking in Limerick this morning, and said it “would be appropriate” for him to publish the letter, despite his department previously refusing to release it under Freedom of Information legislation.

The November 2010 letter from then ECB president Jean Claude Trichet to former finance minister Brian Lenihan is said to have threatened the withdrawal of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) to Ireland if the then government refused to accept the bailout, that included a ban on burning bondholders.

“Usually, communications of an international nature are not subject to freedom of information, so, the freedom of information unit in the Department of Finance decided not to release it publicly,” Mr Noonan said.

“And their equivalents in Frankfurt in the European Central Bank took a similar view.

“But, my view on it is that, it would be appropriate for me to overrule the independence of those that decide on freedom of information.”

Fianna Fail’s Michael McGrath has called for the letter to be released, but Mr Noonan said his party had their own opportunity to do it while in power.

Mr Noonan said the letter will be given to whatever banking inquiry is set up, and it will then be up to the inquiry to publish it.

– David Raleigh



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