The Persil Brigade – Whiter than Whitewash
So much for a hybrid inquiry. What a cop out. No political accountability. No public hearings. No compromise to the Greens whatsoever despite their bleatings. The only thing that’s hybrid about this is that the Greens went looking from a compromise and Fianna Fail compromised by giving them a process with even greater degrees of opacity than a straightforward Commission of Investigation.Brian Lenihan’s interview on Morning Ireland this morning was disingenuous in the extreme. He said if people wanted a public inquiry, well then he could write out a cheque for €150 million and give them a Tribunal. That’s a total red herring. He made no mention of a parliamentary hearing. And the relatively easy steps that could be taken to overcome the flaws exposed by the Abbeylara judgement.
A parliamentary hearing would be all-party and would not be the same vehicle as the workaday committees… it would have a preliminary scoping investigation carried out by an expert; legal advice as to terms and format; and then hearings held on a formal basis, going through the issues module by module. The nature of these committees in the past has been bipartisan and there’s no reason why this one couldn’t be the same.
Brian Cowen’s guff about being accountable to the public and being open to coperation with the process. The terms of reference explicitly exclude any examination of the policy decisions taken by him and his colleagues that faciliated the ‘light touch’ regulation culture that we had in Ireland before the crisis. He also said that the Commission could choose to hold some of its hearings in public. That was also cobblers. Legislation provides for only non-adversarial evidence to be heard in public. In other word, it will be meaningless for the stuff that’s getting close to the bone.
The cut-off date is August 2008. That is inexcusable. We won’t be allowed any sight of what happened in the highly crucial and highly significant period in the run-up the Government ceding to the bank guarantee scheme. Did it capitulate to pressure from Anglo and the other banks? Was it sold a pup by any of the banks? None of us will ever know – not for 30 years anyway.
Hybrid. No. No. No. Whitewash.