FF leader wants ‘Leveson-style’ banking inquiry
Martin says public want justice done but former DPP’s warning should be taken on board
A “Leveson-style inquiry” should be held into the banking controversy following the Anglo tapes revelations, Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin has said. Photograph: Eric Luke/THE IRISH TIMES.
A “Leveson-style inquiry” should be held into the banking controversy following the Anglo tapes revelations, Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin has said. But he also said a warning from former DPP James Hamilton, who said it would be foolish to proceed with any government-led inquiry in advance of criminal proceedings, should be “taken on board”.
“My own preference is for a Levenson type of inquiry under the tribunal of Inquiry Act 2005 – a new form of inquiry with an independent judge,” Mr Martin said.
“The Government has been saying that it wants an inquiry,” he added. “I would simply say to the Government `get on with it’.”
He accused the Government of seeking to delay investigations into the banking system “for as long as possible for political and electoral reasons”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Mr Martin said the public “want the criminal prosecution system to work, the public want results from that”.
“People want justice here and if wrongdoing occurred they want the prosecution system to work on that basis and to get results,” he said
He denied the revelations contained in the Anglo tapes were solely responsible for the slipping of Fianna Fáil in recent opinion polls.
Questioned about the previous government’s decision to agree to a widespread bank guarantee, Mr Martin claimed there had been a “failure of regulation” in the sector and he denied there was covert action taken by ministers at the time.
“There is no secret about this. There is no mystery about what happened on the night of the bank guarantee. Everybody knows who was there from the Taoiseach to Brian Lenihan to Department of Finance officials to [OTHERS]. There has been attempt to suggest that some underhand activity went on on the night there were people going hither and thither.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny had used the world “collusion” and this should be withdrawn, Mr Martin said.
“I would ask him to withdraw it because he has no evidence in any shape or form. I think he behaved as a partisan Fine Gael leader and not as Taoiseach of the country. I think it’s important that you don’t try in advance of any inquiry to prejudge the outcome.”
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen would “certainly” take part in any inquiry into the banking situation in 2008, Mr Martin said.
Recalling the events before the decision was announced to guarantee the banks, Mr Martin said: “At the time it was fundamentally about liquidity. That was the diagnosis of the problem at that time and in essence you had one shot at it and in terms of the guarantee it was to ensure confidence to get deposits – remember deposits were fleeing out of the country.”
Mr Martin, who was in the US at the time, was contacted by his Cabinet colleagues in Dublin.
“On the night the advice was very stark: you were faced with the collapse of the economy. It could have put the economy back 25 to 30 years. I wasn’t told about that on the phone from Dublin but there was a further Cabinet meeting the following morning which people forget about.”
“The advice was that the bank guarantee was absolutely essential,” he said.
“I accepted the advice from the Taoiseach, the minister for finance and all of those other people present.”