Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (120, 121)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

120. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the ECB has expressed to him any fear that it would be open to legal action if the letter of November 2010 from Jean Claude Trichet is published. [22728/14]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

121. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the ECB has indicated to him that it would be happy to release the letter of November 2010 from Jean Claude Trichet after the period where the Statute of Limitations has expired for any citizen or body to take legal action based on its content. [22730/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 121 together.

I should say that, in early 2014, when the ECB initially sought my views in the context of its discussion on the possible release of the letter, I indicated that the decision to release the letter was a matter for the ECB. It is important for relationships between institutions to be developed and sustained in order to allow for confidential negotiations to take place especially on particularly sensitive issues. Requests to release the letter have been considered under our own Freedom of Information legislation on a number of occasions. The decision has been to refuse these requests in line with relevant sections of the FOI Act and the refusal to release has been upheld on one occasion by the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Separately the European Ombudsman investigated the refusal by the ECB to release the letter under the ECB's freedom of information processes. I understand the Ombudsman's Office found that the ECB was entitled not to disclose the letter. I understand that when the European Ombudsman suggested a "friendly solution" and invited the ECB to disclose the letter, the Governing Council of the ECB came to the view that it was appropriate that the letter would not be disclosed at this time but indicated that it will revaluate disclosure of the letter at a more advanced stage of post-programme surveillance.

I am not aware of any concerns expressed by the ECB regarding the possibility of legal action arising from the disclosure of the letter at this time or in the future.