Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has responded to comments this morning from both Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Finance Minister Michael Noonan, when both men launched a joint political attack following criticism of their handling of the banking inquiry.
Deputy Martin commented, “The Government has got itself into a hole and it really needs to stop digging. Today, two of the most senior members of Government have entered a debate, where they clearly haven’t been briefed on the substance of what has happened, and have succeeded only in further confirming the public’s fears about the political nature of the banking inquiry.
“Ministers Noonan and Gilmore have each accused the Fianna Fáil party of ‘pulling a stroke’ by successfully nominating one of our finance team in the Seanad to the inquiry. This is not only untrue, but it also betrays either a lack of basic knowledge about what actually happened or a fundamental dishonesty in the Government’s approach.
“Far from participating in any sort of stroke, Fianna Fáil have been relentless in our co-operation with other parties and independents. There was no agreement on who should represent the Seanad, which is what necessitated the meeting in the first instance.
“In setting the timing of the meeting, Government agreement was secured. At the meeting, when it was clear that the Labour Party’s nominee was not in attendance, the Fianna Fáil Chair offered Government representatives an adjournment until such times as more representatives could attend. This offer was refused and the meeting proceeded with a vote. The meeting then selected Professor Sean Barrett and Marc Mac Sharry.
“The Government can of course continue to instruct senior ministers to misrepresent that process and make unfounded accusations against my party; but in doing so they serve only to undermine the personal credibility of the ministers involved and further damage the inquiry.
“Even at this stage, ministers seem not to understand the damage that has been done over the last week. I would call on Ministers Gilmore and Noonan to reflect on what they have said, acquaint themselves with facts of the last few weeks, and withdraw their remarks.”