The European Central Bank has approved a deal to ease the burden of Ireland's bank debt, a source close to the talks said, saying that was the implication of an oblique statement by bank chief Mario Draghi on Thursday.

Draghi told the ECB's monthly news conference: "On Ireland, there wasn't a decision to take, we, the governing council, unanimously took note of the Irish operation...We don't want to enter into the details of the swap."

He repeatedly declined to elaborate and referred reporters to the Irish government and Irish central bank for details.

The source told Reuters that his comments indicated that the monetary authority had unanimously backed Ireland's plan.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Patrick Graham)