Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described comments on RTÉ’s News at One today by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin as indicative of a determination by the Government to control the operation and outcome of a banking inquiry.
Deputy McGrath commented: “On the one hand Minister Howlin tells us that he wants the Oireachtas to determine how the inquiry is conducted. However the fact that the Minister decided to announce the name of the Chairman of the inquiry and the number of members that will sit on the committee without consulting the Oireachtas highlights once again that the Government’s determination to control the work of the inquiry. It would appear their primary motive is political advantage rather than a desire to definitively establish all the facts surrounding the collapse of the Irish banking sector. It is our belief that the chairman should be independent of Government and the composition of the committee should be balanced between both sides of the House. This would limit the ability of the Government to influence the committee’s work for its own political aims.
“The Minister cited the bank guarantee as the primary event to be investigated but neglected to mention the other key issues that must be inquired into including the role of bank management, the regulatory regime in place at the time, oversight by bank auditors and the role of the ECB. The type of narrowly focused inquiry that the Minister appears to envisage would may suit the Government’s needs and that of senior bankers who were central to the banking collapse but will not satisfy public demand for a comprehensive report.
“It is also important that the inquiry would also look in to decisions taken by this Government also including the decision not to burn senior bondholders in Anglo and Irish Nationwide and placing of IBRC into liquidation.
“In framing any inquiry, regard must the decision of the Irish people in 2011 to reject a constitutional referendum to bolster the investigative powers of committees. This rejection was largely based on the public’s fear that politicians would not be able to put politics to one side while undertaking such inquiries. The actions of the Government to date would indicate that they have not learned this lesson.
“The Irish people simply will not be satisfied with a parliamentary inquiry of the type that is envisaged. The potential of a Leveson type Inquiry would allow a fully independent and public inquiry to take place. However this would appear not to suit the Government’s political agenda.”