IRISH banks' reliance on emergency loans has dropped to its lowest level since September 2008. The return of customer deposits and an increasing ability to access the bond markets are helping cut the need for support.
That represents a 12pc fall in December and a 45pc decline over the course of last year.
Weaning banks off cheap ECB support is a key aim of the Government and the troika overseeing the bailout. Some €40.4bn in emergency loans is owed to the Irish Central Bank.
The big driver of the fall in reliance on emergency loans is the recovery in more normal sources of funding, especially customer deposits.
In December, the amount of cash on deposit at banks covered by the government guarantee was up 1pc, despite a fall in the rates of interest paid out.
Cash on deposit with AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB rose by €1.6bn to €156bn. Deposits at the "covered banks" rose 6pc, or €8.7bn last year.
The news was welcomed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan because banks' ability to hold on to deposits while interest rates are cut is crucial if the lenders are to return to profitability.
It is a big turnaround after large amounts of cash left the banks before and after the bailout in November 2010 on fears of bank collapses. The high rate of savings is a mixed blessing as it is evidence that people are holding on to surplus cash rather than spending.