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Troika discouraged from opposition meetings by May referendum, says ECB

The Troika will not be meeting opposition parties during their latest visit to Ireland – despite doing so during previous reviews.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

DESPITE MEETING with opposition politicians during previous reviews of Ireland’s bailout programme, Troika officials from the EU, ECB and IMF will not be holding such meetings during their latest review.

A Troika team is currently in Ireland to carry out their latest assessment of the state’s loan agreement programme.

A spokesperson for the ECB told TheJournal.ie this afternoon that the forthcoming referendum was the reason behind the decision.

The spokesperson said that while it was good to meet with people for talks in general, “now that the referendum issue is there and the timing is in place, it would not be the appropriate thing to do.”

It is understood that once the referendum on the Fiscal Compact Treaty is over, further reviews will involve meetings with the opposition parties and other groups such as Social Justice Ireland.

Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne, who was involved in previous Troika meetings including that of January 2012, described the decision not to meet with the opposition as a “retrograde step”.

“Hiding Troika officials and keeping all business behind closed doors will do nothing to encourage public confidence in this process,” Byrne said. “I am appealing to the Finance Minister Michael Noonan to change [the] government’s approach and facilitate proper political and media engagement with the Troika while they are here.”

His Oireachtas colleague Michael McGrath TD said it was “deeply disappointing that the Troika has decided not to meet opposition parties during this visit.”

“It is highly regrettable that they would refuse to engage with the largest opposition party at a time when this country is facing a series of critical economic issues – not least the ongoing intransigence of the ECB to ensure there is an equitable sharing of the burden of bank debt.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams criticised the decision as “an affront to democracy and an insult to our mandates and electorate”.

The Louth TD said that the party had contacted the Department of Finance ahead of the Troika visit and was informed that on this occasion, Troika officials would not be meeting with opposition parties.

“Sinn Féin then contacted the European Commission and IMF permanent representations in Dublin to see if a meeting could be organised but were told that the review delegation would not be meeting political parties,” he added.

“It is not yet clear whether this refusal to meet opposition parties was a decision of the Troika alone, or a decision taken on request of the government.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said that the IMF decides who it will meet and that the department facilitates such meetings.

“They come over and set up their agenda in terms of who they want to meet,” he said. It’s a matter for the Troika themselves, and that’s the same with the press conference at the end as well.”

The ECB spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that it is up to the Troika to decide who to meet with and that “this time it was a Troika decision not to [meet with the opposition]“.

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