Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis: Statements
In deference to my colleagues, I will not take very long, in order that somebody else can get in. I thank the Minister for coming here this evening. I want to pay particular thanks to those members of the banking inquiry, including four of my colleagues here - Senators D'Arcy, Barrett, MacSharry and O'Keeffe - who may have sacrificed part of their political career in order to devote their time to the inquiry, forsaking their constituencies while they worked. That has to be acknowledged. This was a triumph of what politics can do. It is very sad that when we brought the referendum to the people, seeking that inquiries like this could have findings of fault, the people did not see what we were trying to do. Perhaps at some point in the future that might happen. Senator D'Arcy is shaking his head.
The banks have not been humbled. They are as bad as they ever were, if not worse. They are utterly dismissive of the people who saved their hides after what was an extraordinary time in our history. I am not so sure that we are not heading into another bubble. I look over my back wall and there are terraced houses, built on a postage stamp, making €650,000. I just do not understand where we are coming from. Builders in my part of Dublin are now not selling houses until they have completed the entire estate, because they know prices are rising so fast that they do not have to sell the houses. The Minister of State may very well be back here in government in a couple of weeks' time and I am sure that if he is, he will be in the same portfolio. I hope somebody takes time out to stop these guys. It was a total gambler's paradise. One could walk into any stockbroker in here, open a CFD account, and make thousands in weeks. That was wrong in every sense of the word.
I have serious concerns about the fiscal space we hear about, which is supposed to be either €3.5 billion or €12 billion. I am not sure where it all fits in. I fear the auction politics we are heading into. The Government has done a great job in restoring the economy over a period of time. We are a small, open economy and can only account for so much, but I would be terribly worried that we would now squander any part of it. I could go on, but I will not. I see there are colleagues who want to speak. I thank the inquiry and particularly my colleagues in this House, who gave a great deal of their time to it.