Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Enda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Yesterday we had a number of questions, statements and the debate on a Labour Party motion in respect of the banking crisis and an investigation into that. The Government has published its proposals. Those proposals do not take into account the extent of public anger that is out there. I agree with the words of the Minister for Finance this morning when he said that what the public want to see is the law of the land implemented in respect of malpractice in banks and financial institutions.
Two investigations are ongoing in that regard, one by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and another by the fraud squad. I had hoped those investigations would have been brought to a conclusion earlier, but they are proceeding. When one considers the back-to-back loans, for instance, that were in evidence, which were electronic transactions, an investigation could have been completed in two hours and a file prepared for the DPP. In any event, the position in so far as the Government is now concerned is that there will be no forensic analysis of regulatory and policy failures or internal and audit competency that the public will be able to see.
The public could see what happened with the committee of investigation into the Iraq war in Britain, or the financial inquiry commission in the United States. The Government has made a strong defence of the commission of investigation facility by saying the Murphy inquiry worked well, as did a number of other inquiries, which they did, but the victims in those cases were children who were victims of sexual abuse and the inquiries had to be held in private. The victims in these cases are the working taxpayers of this country who are now faced with pensions lost, negative equity, difficulty in paying mortgages and an understanding and perception that white collar crime does pay.
The way the Government published its proposals yesterday means there will be no forensic public analysis of what happened. It effectively means the Taoiseach, as a former Minister for Finance, who has said he wants to co-operate fully in any way he can, will not be called before an Oireachtas committee to give evidence. Why would that happen if what I assume is being talked about takes place, that the committee in question would be chaired by a member of the Fianna Fáil Party and would be most unlikely to call the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, the former Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, or the former Minister for Finance, Mr. Charlie McCreevy? In effect, the Government proposals for the scoping facility, the terms of reference for the commission of investigation and an Oireachtas committee being sidelined to the role of commentator means that there will not be public scrutiny and members of the public will not be able to see what happens in respect of the regulatory and policy failures that are concerned.
Does the Taoiseach accept that, in effect, following the proposals announced in a gushing fashion by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, after his green summit with Fianna Fáil, the Taoiseach will never have to give evidence in public to account for policy positions adopted by him and his colleagues in Government?