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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 25 November, 2014

2010 ECB letter to Lenihan could finally be made public

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a motion calling for the publishing of the letter.

The late Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan
The late Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

A LETTER WRITTEN by the former president of the ECB to the then-Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan could be published – weeks after a complaint from the European Ombudsman.

The 2010 letter was sent from Jean-Claude Trichet to Lenihan but its release was blocked by the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB).

On 7 March, European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said she was unhappy that the ECB had blocked the release of the letter.

She said she regrets that the Governing Council “has wasted an opportunity to apply the principle that, in a democracy, transparency should be the rule and secrecy the exception”.

Request

Today, Sinn Féin said that its MEP Martina Anderson had submitted a formal question to the ECB asking under what conditions they will release the letter and what action they may take if Minister Noonan released it unilaterally.

She put a motion to the European Parliament which called on the ECB “to publish the letter of 19 November 2010 from Jean Claude Trichet to the then Irish Finance Minister as requested by the European Ombudsman”.

The motion was accepted.

Sinn Féin’s Midlands Northwest EU candidate Matt Carthy criticised other MEPs for their approach to the vote. He said that Jim Higgins of Fine Gael voted against Anderson’s motion, while Pat “The Cope” Gallagher of Fianna Fáil “didn’t vote”.

Letters

Gavin Sheridan of TheStory.ie said that he had submitted a request to the ECB for all letters sent to Brian Lenihan or his office in November 2010. He said he was told that the release of one specific letter’s contents would “undermine the protection of the public interest”.

At the time, Sheridan said he intended appealing the decision.

Read: Ombudsman unhappy ECB won’t give Brian Lenihan letter to journalist>

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