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Troika 'won't hold press conference' after review mission here

OFFICIALS from the bailout teams at the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund may never again face the full glare of Ireland's media.

Sources last night confirmed the so-called troika, which is due in Ireland today, has taken a definite decision not to hold its customary press conference at the end of the April review mission.

The reluctance to hold an April press conference was initially believed to stem from concerns that comments from officials could be seen as pressuring Ireland into a 'Yes' vote in the May fiscal treaty referendum.

Officials were also believed to want to avoid any further public commentary on protracted efforts to restructure some €30bn of state IOUs given to Anglo Irish Bank.

Sources yesterday said the troika had now formed the view that it was better to have policymakers at the ECB, EC and IMF speak on Ireland issues rather than having the mission chiefs appear publicly.

Bailout

This review mission, which begins in earnest today, is seen as being one of the most crucial of Ireland's bailout programme.

The state of the public finances and Ireland's ability to hit its 2012 deficit targets are likely to dominate the agenda in light of the recent worsening of the economy.

The Government must also deliver the results of "detailed analytical work" on the sale of state assets and must present a "programme of reforms" that will help "better targeting of social support to those on lower incomes and ensure that work pays for social welfare recipients".

On the banking front, a plan for the future of Permanent TSB will be laid before the troika, but sources have suggested a decision on the bank's future may not be taken until there is more progress on a wider package of banking measures.

This package includes the Anglo IOUs, but also extends to other aspects like moving tracker mortgages out of AIB and Permanent TSB and putting them into Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo).

Irish Independent