Shatter says FF call for independent bank inquiry ‘bizarre’
Members of last government could reveal what they know about Anglo dealings today, Minister says
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times.
Fianna Fáil members past and present could reveal what they know about the the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank without the establishment of an independent inquiry, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said.
Mr Shatter said he found it bizarre that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, a senior member of the last government, was leading a charge for an independent inquiry into the events of September 2008 given his party had “led us down the path” by engaging with the failed lender.
The Minister told RTÉ radio that there was nothing to stop senior members of the last government revealing what they knew about the Anglo collapse today.
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“They must know something as they were party to a government decision in this area. What did they know? What were they told specifically and individually about Anglo and its circumstances?”
Mr Martin yesterday told the Dáil that the Tribunal of Inquiry Bill 2005, which provided for a radically different version of the tribunals held in the past, was a model that could hold bankers to account. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Martin’s intervention was a pathetic attempt at political opportunism.
Mr Shatter said new Oireachtas inquiries legislation, which he hoped would become law within three weeks, would provide committees with all the possible powers it could within the existing constitutional constraints. These would include an ability to subpoena witnesses, seek documents and compel witnesses such as former government members to give evidence.
He said the system could provide greater transparency regarding what occurred than a behind closed doors investigation.
However, an impediment was that the inquiry would be unable to “make conclusions that detrimentally impact on an individual’s reputation” as a result of the rejection of the inquiries referendum in 2011.
Mr Shatter said he was not briefed about the content of the taped Anglo Irish Bank phone conversations obtained by the Irish Independent as it would have been “highly inappropriate” given a criminal prosecution was taking place into events related to the failed institution.
The Minister described the recordings as “nauseating” and said that those involved seemed to have no sense of responsibility.
He said former Anglo executives David Drumm and John Bowe appeared to have no insight as to the impact their “actions and extraordinary catastrophic failures” would have on the wider banking system as well as on Anglo shareholders, Irish taxpayers and the State’s reputation.
“This has to have been the most dysfunctional of all of the banks in the context of the collapse that occurs and, as a senior executive responsible for the policy direction of that bank, there is no indication [MR DRUMM]has any sense of responsibility on his part for the catastrophe that is about to happen and he is going to inflict on the Irish people.”