Monday 18 December 2017

Trichet defends his record of helping out Ireland


Laura Noonan

ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday gave his final defence of the ECB's intervention in the Irish crisis, insisting the bank has been "extraordinarily forthcoming" in its assistance to Ireland.

The comments came as Mr Trichet gave his penultimate press conference after a meeting of the ECB's Governing Council in Berlin yesterday that marked the end of his eight-year term at the helm.

Asked whether the ECB's role in the Irish crisis had been "well understood" and whether he had anything to say to people who thought that his institution had been "too harsh" by compelling Ireland to repay all bank senior bondholders, Mr Trichet mounted a spirited defence of his institution.

"The ECB and the euro system have been very, very forthcoming vis-a-vis Ireland, as all figures are demonstrating, extraordinarily forthcoming," he said, a reference to the massive liquidity support given to the Irish banks.

At its peak, the ECB was providing about €185bn of liquidity to Irish banks, including €116bn directly plus another €69bn of "emergency liquidity assistance" provided indirectly through the Central Bank of Ireland.

Mr Trichet has previously described the level of funding as "absolutely without precedent".

Having noted his institution's support to Ireland, Mr Trichet went on to say that Ireland has done a "good job, a very good job, and that the credibility of Ireland is improving, I would say, month after month".

He declined to directly answer whether Ireland should be allowed to follow in Greece's footsteps by not meeting all of its bailout targets and imposing losses on some of its sovereign bondholders.

"It is a work in progress," he replied. "We call for all decisions to be implemented, fully, expeditiously, both by Greece and Europe as a whole."

Throughout his tenure, Mr Trichet has repeatedly stressed the overarching need for Ireland to "follow the plan, follow the plan", or stick rigorously to the terms laid down by the bailout programme.

Meanwhile, the new liquidity supports unveiled by the ECB yesterday were last night described as "very welcome" by senior figures in Irish banking.

"Anything that gives enhanced certainty on the availability of a backstop is welcome," a senior banking source said last night, while another described the longer term as "very welcome". Central Bank data shows Irish banks have typically favoured longer-term ECB funding.

Irish Independent

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