Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has said the ECB’s participation in the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry must be a formal, substantive engagement in public with any evidence being fully admissible as part of the Inquiry.

Deputy McGrath was reacting to a letter from ECB President Mario Draghi to Irish MEPs.

Deputy McGrath commented, “I welcome the initiative taken by the Irish MEPs in an effort to secure full ECB cooperation with the Banking Inquiry. For a number of months now, the Inquiry has been seeking to engage with the ECB on their participation in the Inquiry. As has been reported, efforts are being made to secure the participation of former ECB President Jean Claude Trichet in a mutually acceptable manner. However, the participation of the ECB as an institution is also required. I also believe the Inquiry needs access to a range of documents held by the ECB relating to the Irish crisis.

“I have serious concerns about Mr Draghi’s reference to an ‘informal exchange of views’. What we need is not an informal exchange of views with an Oireachtas committee, but rather a substantive, formal engagement with the ECB in public and whereby the evidence given is fully admissible to the Inquiry. I do not accept that there is a legal prohibition on Jean Claude Trichet or other current or former ECB officials appearing before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry. It is imperative that the 11 members of the Inquiry, as representatives of the Irish people have a full opportunity to examine all the key issues relating to the banking collapse. This includes being able to directly question key players such as Mr Trichet and his successor Mario Draghi. The rules of the Inquiry have been set up such that members must be present to hear all witnesses so they are in a position to fully appraise the evidence that is presented.

“The terms of reference of the Banking Inquiry specifically provides for an examination of the role of the ECB on the question of burden sharing with creditors. I re-state my view that the involvement of the ECB in the Inquiry is not some sort of optional extra, it is fundamental to the work of the Inquiry. A credible and comprehensive Banking Inquiry requires the full participation and cooperation of the ECB. This means the same standard of accountability applying to the ECB as all other witnesses coming before the Inquiry.”