SO that's official, then: there was no deal. The €3bn payment (or is that non-payment?) of the IOUs to the former Anglo Irish Bank was just a domestic little arrangement; not part of any EU/ECB deal.
That, at any rate, was the description given by ECB President Mario Draghi, at his press conference last week. "Nothing to do with me, guv," was the tone.
One can assume that this does not do justice to the full truth, but it does reveal the fundamental truth. As of now, the central bank is not for turning on this issue.
It is, of course, their money. The Irish Central Bank, which is part of the euro system that makes up the ECB, lent the cash to prevent the immediate collapse of Anglo, in favour of slow closure under its new and deliberately boring name of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.
The Irish Government promised to repay the central bank loans, plus interest, in annual stages, for the next couple of decades. The ECB wants it to keep that promise. Where it gets complicated is when one considers that the ECB insisted that Anglo not be allowed to collapse and that all its debts must be repaid, via the Irish Government -- that's us.
The Government itself has hoped that the apparent unfairness of the burden sharing between bank and state would soften the ECB's stance. When that seemed not to be working, it went further, claiming a deal was in the offing -- even that it had been done. That was not really the case either.
These complexities may be too arcane to matter in the referendum; the passing of which will be the Government's first objective. Ministers can say, with just sufficient truth, that they avoided having to pay more than €3bn in troika loans to IBRC, and that the money can be used elsewhere.
Opponents of the fiscal treaty can say, with just sufficient truth, that this is mere smoke and mirrors; but explaining why may be just too confusing for the public.
There may be more significance for them in the reasons for the ECB's tough stance. It has become commonplace to attribute malevolence to anyone -- particularly the German government and the ECB -- who is not doing what we think they ought to.
This is not too surprising in a country that pays so much attention to politics and so little to policy. Everything is personal. In fact, everything comes down to interests, and everyone's interests differ. As the rest of the ECB statements indicate, its interests currently lie a long way from those of the Irish Government.
This may be why Mr Draghi laid such emphasis on honouring commitments. Austin Hughes, economist at KBC, noted the change in language since the March meeting, where a reference to the need for indebted countries "to make further progress" was replaced by a call on governments to "fully meet their responsibilities".
The ECB will certainly have been alarmed by the news that Spain's deficit is larger than had been thought, and by the mixed signals from Madrid's new government as to what it intends to do about it. Wednesday's borrowing auction showed markets are alarmed, too.
Irish figures appear to be on target but the poor participation in the household charge may well be a sign of correction fatigue. Nor does the Government look particularly comfortable with what lies ahead.
This calls for a further €7bn in tax revenues and €5bn in spending cuts by 2015. A comprehensive deal on promissory notes would help achieve the spending side but the ECB, as well as the other EU institutions, will wonder if it might also weaken the commitment to the programme.
It is a very long way to next March, when another €3bn will fall due. Mr Draghi thinks Ireland can return to commercial borrowing in 2013 and analyses from two international institutions on Friday suggested the same.
Were Ireland able to borrow any significant sums on bond markets next year at, say, 5.5 per cent, it would transform the context for dealing with promissory notes. But it is a long way to March for the ECB as well. The pressures over its own actions are growing.
Its statement actually used the phrase, "act in a firm and timely manner". In the past, that would have been a warning that an interest rates rise could be on the way. That seems unlikely this time, but it may be a signal that higher borrowing costs could be imposed before the end of the year.
Irish banks have applied their own increases, but those on tracker mortgages have been spared. Everyone would be hit by an ECB increase. A Central Bank analysis last week showed Irish household liabilities, despite sharp reductions, still total €200bn. We may have more to fear from the ECB than just a reluctance to cut deals.