ECB may publish letter to Lenihan next week

Brian Lenihan: Letter was sent to the then finance minister on eve of bailout.

The ECB could publish the now notorious letter it sent to then finance minister Brian Lenihan on the eve of the bailout as early as next week.

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly said the ECB’s governing council will use a meeting on November 6 to decide on the release of the letter.

Mr Kelly said publication of the letter would bring “transparency” to one of the most important events in modern Irish history. If it is revealed that ex-ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet put undue pressure on Mr Lenihan, the matter could be raised at the European Court of Justice.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the Government should not wait for the ECB to act, but release the letter itself.

“For years now, [Finance Minister Michael] Noonan has been sitting on this letter and refusing to release it due to ECB pressure. He should now put an end to this saga and release the letter as a full, unedited document.

“In the context of the banking inquiry it is inconceivable that this letter would not be available and public. Minister Noonan should act now and make public his copy of the letter.

“Transparency campaigners like Gavin Sheridan and the EU ombudsman have requested this letter but have been rebuffed time after time.

“Minister Noonan should pre-empt any attempt by the ECB to procrastinate further or to impose conditions on the letter’s release by publishing it,” Mr Doherty said.

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly called on the ECB to open up on the letter after it rejected a previous call from her for transparency.

“I already criticised the Governing Council of the ECB in March 2014 for having wasted an opportunity for transparency by not releasing the letter,” she said.

“Following an inspection of the letter, I concluded that the ECB had been right to refuse access to the document at the time of the request for access.

“However, as more than three years have passed since the letter was sent, I proposed that the ECB now disclose the letter in order to underline its commitment to transparency

“At the time, the ECB justified its refusal to disclose the letter by the need to protect Ireland’s financial stability. According to the ECB, the letter was sent in the context of significant market pressure and extreme uncertainty as to the pros-pects for the Irish economy.

“I hope that the ECB will now quickly come to a decision to release the letter, given that Ireland’s economic and financial situation has substantially changed in the meantime,” Ms O’Reilly said.


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