Friday 23 March 2018

Bruton hits back at ECB official over responsibility

Laura Noonan

IFSC tsar John Bruton yesterday insisted that an executive member of the European Central Bank was "wrong" to say that the ECB bore no responsibility for the collapse of Ireland's banks.

The comments came a fortnight after Mr Bruton told a London gathering that the ECB had failed to use its powers to stop Ireland's banking system growing unsustainably.

ECB director Dr Lorenzo Bini Smaghi hit back on March 11, stating categorically that national authorities were responsible for the "prudential regulation" of their own banks.

"I respectfully suggest that Dr Bini Smaghi is wrong and that a reading of the statute of the ECB shows that he is," Mr Bruton told an accountants' gathering yesterday.


The former Taoiseach added that he accepted it would "not have been politically easy" for the ECB to have used its powers to intercede during the boom years since there would have been outcry in Ireland about "interference from Frankfurt".

"One should not forget that, precisely so the ECB can ignore that sort of thing, that it was made politically independent under its statute," he said.

Mr Bruton, who formally acted as the EU's ambassador to Washington, struck a more conciliatory tone in some parts of his speech acknowledging that the ECB was "helping to resolve the situation" in Ireland's banks.

"I do not make these points out of any wish to shift blame away from where it belongs," he said. "There is a great deal of blame due to the Irish authorities, the majority of the blame ...

"But if the EU is to learn from the crisis it has to look at the whole picture. Part of that picture is the role of the ECB and other EU institutions."

Mr Bruton is now heading up IFSC Ireland, an organisation set up to attract new companies to Dublin's financial hub.

Irish Independent

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