Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described indications that former ECB President Jean Claude Trichet would agree to a meeting with a representative group of Irish MEPs on issues relating to the banking inquiry as a totally inadequate response to the request for full co-operation with the inquiry.

Deputy McGrath commented, “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. It is not acceptable that we seek to sub-contract part of this process to either the European Parliament or a “third party” as has been suggested.

“As I understand it the members of the inquiry can only consider the evidence that is presented directly to them when they come to write their report. Therefore any information that is put forward outside the terms of the inquiry itself is immediately devalued and its admissibility as evidence must be seriously open to question.

“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. The examination of this issue requires the full participation of the ECB, not the half- way house that apparently is being offered. In fact the ECB itself has not indicated the level of co-operation it is willing to provide to the Inquiry.

“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 – attendance at a public session and a willingness to take questions from committee members. What is on offer at the moment falls well short of the standard required.”