ECB 'tried to force' quick bailout
Ahern claims Europe used media leaks to pressure country
A SENIOR minister claimed last night that the European Central Bank used media leaks to try to "bounce" the Government into accepting the €85bn bailout deal.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern was speaking about the run up to the controversial bailout, during which he memorably dismissed weekend reports that it was being discussed by Irish and EU officials as "fiction".
But he blamed "people within" the ECB for leaking information about the discussions to the Sunday newspapers and putting "quite incredible pressure" on the country.
"I do believe that there was an effort to bounce us into making a decision before the cabinet had even discussed it. Those few days were extremely fraught, quite clearly," he said.
Mr Ahern told RTE's 'Today with Pat Kenny' show that he believed the ECB was now "doing the same" with Portugal in terms of leaks to the media.
But his attack on the ECB was not backed up last night by Taoiseach Brian Cowen. His spokesman said he did not believe Mr Cowen shared that view.
The claim came as a man was preparing to seek permission from the High Court on Monday to mount a constitutional challenge to the bailout deal.
Retired builder John Wolfe, from Seafield Court, Malahide, County Dublin, is seeking a declaration that the Government has no mandate to deal with the IMF and the ECB.
Mr Wolfe, a lay litigant, has argued that the case is of "monumental importance to every man, woman and child in the country" and should be placed before the people in a referendum. "These banks are private companies and as such the government has no legal contract from the people of Ireland to give out monies to private enterprises," he said.
There were stormy Dail scenes yesterday, with the Government accused of pawning the country in signing up to the international bailout.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore branded the deal lousy and claimed it tied the hands of the Government.