Belfast Telegraph

Ahern accuses bank of bailout leaks

Europe tried to bounce Ireland into an international bailout before the Cabinet could discuss it, a senior minister has said.

Dermot Ahern also accused officials from the European Central Bank (ECB) of leaking details to the media to pressurise the Government into applying for a rescue loan.

The Justice Minister's remarks follow suggestions from Children's Minister Barry Andrews that the country was forced to accept the package offered by the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

After announcing his imminent retirement from national politics, Mr Ahern described the days prior to the bail-out negotiations as fraught.

"I do believe there was an effort to bounce us into a discussion before the Cabinet had even discussed it," he said.

"Those few days were extremely fraught, quite clearly."

Mr Ahern was left red-faced after branding reports the Government was on the brink of a rescue package as fiction just days before Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan revealed a bailout was on the cards.

The minister, who has revealed he will not stand in the upcoming general election, insisted he gave the factual position at the time and denied he was left out of the loop.

Although now backing the 85 billion euro package, he claimed there had been no discussion at Cabinet of a bailout at that stage and accused the ECB of leaking information to the media.

"Clearly there were people from outside this country who were trying to bounce us, as a sovereign state, into making an application, throwing in the towel before we had even considered it as a government," Mr Ahern said.

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