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IMF invited us to course on 'identifying systemic risk' - three days after it started talking about a bailout

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan was invited to attend an IMF course, days after pre-bailout correspondence began.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE IMF SENT the governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Patrick Honohan, an invitation to a course teaching about how to identifying major risks to the economy – three days after contacting the government to kick off arrangements for the €85bn bailout.

The ironic invitation, revealed in documents obtained by TheJournal.ie, invited Honohan to attend the course within days of contact being made between Ireland, the ECB and the IMF on Ireland’s precarious financial situation.

That contact ultimately led to the talks which saw Ireland agree to an €85bn rescue package from the two lenders.

The invitation, received by fax from the IMF’s headquarters in Washington, was sent on November 5 of last year.

Only three days earlier, then-finance minister Brian Lenihan received another fax from the IMF and a letter from the ECB – in moves which eventually led to tripartite talks on the bailout.

Click here for a hi-res version of the invite >

The IMF Institute’s course – held in Vienna in February – intended to educate central bankers “on the identification of risks that can threaten the stability of the financial stability”.

It also hoped to advise bankers on how to deal with such risks, “in light of the recent financial crisis”, presumably in case such risks presented themselves again in the future.

The course evidently arrived too late to save Ireland, which was forced into needing a rescue package by the size of the bill it incurred bailing out its troubled banks.

The EU-IMF bailout deal was confirmed on November 22 – only 17 days after the IMF invited Ireland to attend its ill-timed course.

At the time of publication, the Central Bank of Ireland had not responded to queries on whether it had sent any personnel to the ten-day course.

TheJournal.ie obtained the documents from the Department of Finance under the Freedom of Information Act.

The FoI request – for all correspondence between the minister and the ECB, European Commission and IMF for the month surrounding the bailout – was largely refused on the basis that the documents were confidential and that releasing them was not “in the public interest”.

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Gavan Reilly

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