McAleese signs nationalisation bill into law

Wed, Jan 21, 2009, 00:00

President Mary McAleese has today signed into law legislation covering the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank.

The Oireachtas last night passed the emergency legislation to approve the Government's nationalisation of the Bank.

The Dáil yesterday passed the Bill by a vote of 79 to 67 after a lengthy debate. The complex legislation was later approved by the Seanad before midnight, after almost 10 hours of debate in both houses.

The Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Bill 2009 was signed into law by President McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin this afternoon.

The Government had sought to rush legislation through to execute the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank, which had been part of the recapitalisation scheme agreed only late last month.

Independent Senator Joe O’Toole said people responsible for the secret loans fiasco in Anglo must face the full rigours of the law.

“There will never be closure on this issue as long as people can walk free having caused chaos and damage all around them,” he said. “When one thinks of the damage caused to them, the fact that those responsible might never be brought to justice should not be acceptable to any legislature.”

Senator Shane Ross, who attended Anglo’s emergency meeting as a shareholder, told the Seanad debate that the directors’ loans controversy represented Irish corporate life at its worst.

He criticised the refusal of the bank’s board to answer any questions to allay the concerns of hundreds of the bank’s clients.

“Small investors went along knowing they had lost virtually everything and wanted to get some information and find out the reason they had lost it, possibly in the hope of salvaging something.

“However, what I saw was an utter disgrace,” he said.

Earlier in the Dáil, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan revealed Anglo Irish has 7,000 customers on its loan books, of whom 5,000 are Irish.

Mr Lenihan said the Government's move to nationalise Anglo Irish Bank had been taken to safeguard the economic future of the country and the continued viability of its financial institutions.

"The Government is determined to protect the taxpayer's interests by putting clear blue water between the new Anglo Irish bank and the unacceptable behaviour that has gone before," said Mr Lenihan.

But Opposition parties had complained that not enough time was being given to debate the legislation.

Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton told the debate: “The Government’s banking strategy has been made up on the hoof.”

"We are not having the sort of debate that ought to be had in this House to make nationalisation a credible and well thought-out stress test strategy," said Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton.

"You have put this into such as tight framework that we can't do the job that the people think we are elected to do and that is to hold you to account and through you, to hold those in the instiututions behind you, to account."

Labour TD Pat Rabbitte said he regretted that the Dáil did not have the time to properly debate the issue and criticised the lack of information available about the bank’s liquidity.

Labour failed in its bid to have a High Court inspector appointed under the Companies Act to investigate the affairs of Anglo.

The party voted against the Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Bill 2009, because of what Ms Burton said was the failure of the Government to provide any relevant information about the financial situation of the bank.