Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis: Statements
It is not, but I am talking generally. I am talking about the consequences, which is one of the things the report should have examined. It should have examined the impact on the people. People would like to know about it. They would like to know about the hundreds of thousands of people put out of their jobs, the many people who took their own lives, the young people forced to emigrate, the special needs assistants who were taken away, and hospital trolleys. They would like to know about all this kind of stuff. There was a devastating impact.
What about the burning of the bondholders? I was always in favour of burning the bondholders. We should have looked Europe in the eye and said, "Okay, bring us down, but we sure as hell will bring you down with us." People bought those bonds at 25% of their face value and redeemed them at full cost. That is an absolute scandal. I asked some questions in this House in the run-up. I asked, when we were giving the €400 billion guarantee, what our gross national product was. I was told they had to set out to find €200 billion. We were giving a guarantee for twice our gross national income.
We should look at the impact on the people of Ireland. The regulators were asleep on the job. All of them. Yet they walked away with these enormous pensions. That is an insult to the people of Ireland, who were bankrupted by it. Then there are the accounting firms. How on earth did these people, who are still employed by Government, sign off on the accounts of these banks? They were there to scrutinise, authorise and put their signature to accounts that said they were all right when they plainly were not. They were borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and shifting huge sums of money around to conceal the deficiencies in their own banks.
I compliment those who were involved in the banking inquiry. They did a good job within the limitations that applied. On the appointment of Senator Marc MacSharry, I got out of my sick bed just after having a major operation to come and vote on this issue. I voted Senator Marc MacSharry in because I wanted to see an independent inquiry. The media got hold of it and stated it was a Fianna Fáil plot. As I have stated previously in the House, they should have seen the look on the faces of Fianna Fáil Members at that meeting because the jaw-drop was colossal. They had not realised I was going to do it, but I did it in the interests of independence and transparency. Like all other members, Senator Marc MacSharry played a valuable role in assessing the issues involved.