| 20.8°C Dublin

ECB set to reveal when infamous Trichet letter to Brian Lenihan will be released


Jean-Claude Trichet

Jean-Claude Trichet

Jean-Claude Trichet

THE European Central Bank will decide on November 6 when it will release the infamous 2010 letter from its then president to former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly has said.

Many suspect the letter prompted Ireland's entry into a bailout programme.

Mr Kelly said the Frankfurt-based ECB confirmed to him that the decision would be made at the next meeting of the Governing Council.

The letter was sent from Jean-Claude Trichet, inset, to Mr Lenihan in November 2010.

"Further to their commitment to me that they will release the "Lenihan-Trichet" letter, the ECB has informed me that they will decide on the release date at their Governing Council meeting on November 6," Mr Kelly said this morning.

"After which, they will confirm to me the exact date of release.

"Furthermore, they intend to release the letter to me directly following my request some months ago and they will release the letter publicly."

Earlier this year, the ECB again refused to hand over the letter, prompting criticism from European ombudsman Emily O'Reilly.

It has been claimed that the letter allegedly reveals that Mr Trichet threatened to pull funding from Ireland's banks unless the government accepted a bailout without burning bondholders.

The ECB has said that it was not in the public interest to release the letter. The Department of Finance has also not released it.

The late Mr Lenihan told a BBC Radio 4 documentary that the ECB had threatened him both verbally and by correspondence about what would happen if he refused.

He did not provide specifics. The former ECB chief's role in the bank guarantee has long been controversial, with claims that Irish leaders were effectively railroaded by the ECB into bailing out banks and bondholders here in order to protect the wider euro system.

However, he has said the decision to implement the guarantee was taken by the Irish government.

Earlier this year, Mr Trichet told the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs that the Irish government had been correct to step in and guarantee the banks in September 2008, but said it was Ireland's decision.

The guarantee - which ultimately cost taxpayers here €64bn -- was a "fully justifiable position given the very difficult circumstances they (the Irish government) faced," Mr Trichet said.

Sinn Fein's Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to release the letter.

"For years now Minister 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," he said.

Irish Independent