Banks' reliance on emergency funds from the European Central Bank fell in January, with outstanding loans of €70.1 billion, down from €70.9 billion a month earlier, the Central Bank said.

Emergency loans from the Central Bank also fell slightly to €39.8 billion last month.

Under a plan agreed with the European Central Bank yesterday, the Government will not have to tap such exceptional liquidity assistance (ELA) funding in future.

The counry's viable banks remain heavily dependent on emergency funding to run day-to-day.

But they have trimmed that reliance from a high of €187 billion in February 2011 by shrinking balance sheets and making a tentative return to capital markets.