ECB refuses to discuss talks on promissory notes

As Irish officials continue to insist there is an imminent deal on the Anglo Irish promissory notes the ECB is claiming that releasing or even commenting on any details of a deal would undermine the entire European financial system.

In response to a freedom of information request from the Irish Examiner for documents in relation to the ongoing negotiations between the ECB and the Irish authorities. the director general of the ECB secretariat, Pierre van der Hagen, said they could not go beyond acknowledging that negotiations are in train.

“Documents relating to the on going developments surrounding the Anglo Irish promissory notes cannot be disclosed, as even partial disclosure would undermine the protection of the public interest as regards monetary policy of the union and the financial or economic policy of Ireland, and the stability of the financial system in the union and in Ireland.” he said.

Mr van der Hagen said that the silence from the ECB in relation to the Anglo Irish promissory notes was due to the fact that any pronouncement could influence the outcome of discussions.

“It is the ECB’s assessment that disclosure by the ECB of any information on the status of these developments, other than acknowledging that they are ongoing and are being examined, would have an undue influence on them. This is why the ECB has not made any public comment as regards the substance and the state of affairs of these developments, other than referring to the fact that they are being examined,” he said.

Mr van der Hagen did note that the ECB has a keen interest in developments surrounding the Anglo Irish promissory notes, including their possible restructuring and that they are in close contact with the Central Bank of Ireland.

The structuring of the deal on the Anglo Irish promissory notes by the previous government means that interest payments would only come into effect from this year. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been pushing to try and get a deal on the promissory notes before crippling interest payments kick in, which threaten to derail Ireland’s recovery.

However, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, said it was very much in the public interest that the status of the negotiations be revealed so that the fudge that was orchestrated last year in relation to the payment of the €3.1bn is not repeated.

“We’re less than three months to this note being paid. We went through the same rigmarole last year and it transpired no deal had been achieved. It’s very much in the public interest to know what, if any, negotiations are ongoing and we deserve to be kept informed and for the process to be more transparent,” he said.

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