Thursday 12 December 2019

Ex-ECB chief's refusal to attend probe 'disrespectful' – Varadkar

Jean-Claude Trichet
Jean-Claude Trichet

Daniel McConnell and Emma Jane Hade

GOVERNMENT Ministers have hit out at former European Central Bank chief Jean Claude Trichet, who says he will not appear at the planned banking inquiry.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar have called on Mr Trichet to make himself available, with Mr Varadkar describing the former ECB president's refusal to attend "disrespectful".

Mr Trichet strongly opposed the burning of Anglo Irish Bank bondholders during his term, and has again said ECB rules mean he does not have to answer to national parliaments.

Mr Trichet says it would be more appropriate for the Irish Governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, to represent the ECB at any inquiry.


Ms Burton said the ECB may be independent, but it's not "unaccountable".

"I don't think he can say that just because he is retired he can't come before an independent inquiry of the National Parliament. The ECB is indep- endent but that does not mean it is not accountable," she said.

Mr Varadkar says it is "disrespectful" of Trichet not to appear in front of the national parliament.

"I think it is disrespectful to our national parliament, for a former head of the ECB, someone whose salaries was paid by European taxpayers to refuse to attend a parliamentary inquiry, and I think he should do that," he added.

Mr Trichet was the ECB president during Ireland's banking collapse and said he was against burning Anglo Bank bondholders. In an interview with Newstalk, Mr Trichet said the 2008 bank guarantee was a decision taken "without consultation" by the Irish Government and he was "told afterwards". Mr Trichet said his absence from the banking inquiry is down to the ECB's rules.

"If the rule was changed, I would apply the new rule," he said. "All decisions are taken collectively by all members of the governing council and the responsibility of explaining decisions are in the hands of the governments."

Mr Trichet previously took issue with the strong criticism of the ECB from within Ireland, insisting it was given "fantastic" support by his bank. He also says Ireland was not singled out for punishment, as often suggested in political discourse.

"Ireland was by very, very far the country benefiting the most from a considerable amount of liquidity from the euro system," he said.

Irish Independent

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