Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Ba mhaith liom beannachtaí a rá ar son Pháirtí Shinn Féin agus Nollaig Mhaith a ghuí leis an Taoiseach féin agus leis na Teachtaí Dála agus leis na Seanadóirí agus le foireann iomlán Thithe an Oireachtais a thug cúram maith dúinn i rith na bliana agus leis na meáin fosta agus d‘achan duine atá ag obair sa Teach seo. Tá súil agam go mbeidh Nollaig mhaith acu uilig agus bliain úr faoi mhaise agus go mbeimid uilig ar ais anseo, slán, sábháilte in 2019.
A Cheann Comhairle, ba mhaith liom an cheist seo a ardú inniu leis an Taoiseach. Yesterday, the liquidators of IBRC, the successor to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, confirmed that unsecured and unguaranteed junior bondholders at Anglo Irish Bank who gambled during the banking collapse will be paid in full a sum of €270 million in the coming weeks. The payment of hundreds of millions of euro of taxpayers' money is a betrayal of the Irish people who bailed out Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide to the tune of €35 billion. This issue was first raised in 2015. A line should have been drawn at that stage but it was not. We were assured by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that it would not happen. The former Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, told us it would not happen, as did the then Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton. At the time, the current Taoiseach also said it would not happen. Lo and behold, three years later, we all know that these unguaranteed and unsecured junior bondholders are to be paid in full. It is an early Christmas present for the bondholders while the rest of us are left picking up a tab of €30 billion for a bank that should never have been bailed out in the first place.
The former Governor of the Central Bank, Professor Patrick Honohan, argued strenuously against paying these bondholders. In 2015, he told officials of the Department of Finance that there was a moral case for making sure that any money recovered from the liquidation of IBRC was returned to the taxpayer and not to junior bondholders. In one of his emails to the Department in March 2015, he stated: "The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the State should take further steps to ensure that unexpectedly strong asset disposals by the IBRC liquidator return to the State and not to subordinated debt holders". Instead, under the Taoiseach's watch, bondholders are in line for a bumper payout. This is scandalous stuff but hardly surprising given his track record.
A fortnight ago, a senior banker at Irish Nationwide, who was responsible for all commercial lending originating in this State, was given a minimal penalty for reckless lending. When pressed, the Taoiseach refused to back our call to make reckless lending a crime, despite it being a criminal offence in the UK and despite the Central Bank's support for our call for it to be made a crime. The ongoing prioritisation of the banks, bankers and vulture funds continues under the Taoiseach's watch while mortgage holders and taxpayers are left picking up the bill.
We should not forget that the architects of all of this were Fianna Fáil and the bankers at that time. This is a figure of €270 million being paid to unguaranteed and unsecured junior bondholders who gambled on a bust bank and cannot believe their luck with this Government. What steps will the Taoiseach take to make sure he delivers on his promise in 2015 that these bondholders would not be paid or will it be more of roll-over Leo?