Professor Karl Whelan of UCD has told the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee that the country could re-structure its debt in the morning if the ECB governing council said yes.

He said he had a suspicion that the country is making a lot less progress and that there is more ECB vested interest against a deal on the country's debt than we realize. He said it might be time to ''wake up and smell the coffee''.

He was talking about the Government's strategy and approach to the ECB. Earlier, he said no-one knows what kind of discussions are taking place.

He said we are regularly told by the Government that technical people are having technical discussions about technical stuff with technocrats. He said it is designed to make people go to sleep.

He told the Committee there are different attitudes to how you get things done with the ECB, and he said he had not heard enough blunt language.

He said he suspected that Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan believe that those smoke-filled rooms and technical discussions behind closed doors are the way to influence the ECB.

Economics Professor Brian Lucey also told the committee that it makes no sense, economically or morally, to pay the next tranche of the €3.1 billion to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders on March 31.

He said we should go to the ECB and tell them we've had our own technical discussions and that it would be better for Ireland to spend the money on something else.

He added there is no mechanism to throw someone out of the euro or throw someone out of the European Union. No matter what we do, we can't be thrown out of euro or EU, he said. The ECB threat to cut liquidity off, is only a threat, he added.

Professor Lucey said it is important to find out if these technical discussions on promissory notes, mentioned by the Minister, are really happening. He said we only have a six week window to address the issue of the promissory notes before it makes it difficult to change them.

Professor Karl Whelan said the problem regarding the promissory notes goes beyond the civil servants in the Department of Finance, and the expertise at Central Bank. The real question, he said is at a political level.

He added that the lack of movement on promissory notes is depressing. He said the Greek example shows, when push comes to shove, they prefer to get official people like the IMF and others paid back, and not private bondholders.