It's clear Trichet has questions to answer
Published 18/04/2015 | 02:30
Our revelations today regarding the 'Chopra tapes' make it imperative that the former head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Jean-Claude Trichet, and the former head of the Troika mission to Ireland, Ajai Chopra, are immediately called before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.
Representatives of the ECB must also face formal questioning by elected representatives in Ireland about its role in the events of 2008 to 2010. Mr Trichet has dangled the unsatisfactory carrot of being willing to cooperate with the inquiry without appearing in formal sessions. It is not good enough.
We now know that Mr Chopra, who headed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Ireland, has told an influential audience that the ECB went beyond its remit in pushing Ireland to impose austerity and that it was, as he called it, an "outrageous overreach" of the mandate of the European Central Bank.
If the ECB stepped beyond its mandate behind closed doors in 2010, it cannot credibly hide behind its much-vaunted independence now, when efforts are being made to throw open those same doors.
We know from strenuous attempts by the Irish media that Mr Trichet played a central role in the events that led to the Irish bailout in 2010. But we have been denied the full account of how and why that came to pass.
Mr Trichet, who is now retired, has declined to attend the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry. It seems there is no way he can be compelled to do so, but those running the inquiry should make further strenuous efforts, in the light of Mr Chopra's remarks, to get him to change his mind.
Mr Chopra, who always came across during his visits to Dublin as a pleasant official doing an unpleasant job, is a man with something to say, who was on the ground in Ireland during that fateful November.
The Irish people had to bear the brunt of austerity, some of which we have always believed could have been avoided, had the ECB adopted a less rigid approach to protecting the bank bondholders at all costs. Mr Chopra has, in his own quiet way, opened a Pandora's box and the Irish taxpayer deserves to see what emerges from it.