Banking inquiry members clash over ‘bias’ accusation

Eoghan Murphy said Joe Higgins planned to oppose report before even signing up to committee

Joe Higgins did not contribute to the final banking inquiry report, producing a minority report instead.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Joe Higgins did not contribute to the final banking inquiry report, producing a minority report instead. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy has clashed with his banking inquiry colleague Joe Higgins, accusing him of “bias” over his refusal to sign the committee’s final report on the causes of the banking crisis.

Mr Murphy said retiring socialist TD Mr Higgins stated his intention to oppose the final report before the inquiry had begun its work.

“The legislation, it was never going to do what you would like it to do and you knew that when you signed up,” he told Mr Higgins on today’s Irish Times Business Podcast.

“In fact before you even signed up to the committee you said with me in an interview on air that you’d be producing a minority report, which just displays bias before you even went into the process,” he said.

The Irish Times Business Podcast

Mr Higgins said that aspects of the inquiry such as the public hearings were valuable but that “the real source of the crisis is completely ignored” in the final report.

‘Apologise profusely’

He called on Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan and Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to apologise for not telling the Dáil in 2011 that the ECB and its president Jean-Claude Trichet threatened to remove emergency liquidity facilities from Irish banks if losses were imposed on bondholders.

“They should apologise, and apologise profusely, for capitulating on a phonecall from the ECB and then coming in to the national parliament and treating the elected members in that way, but more importantly for treating the Irish people in that way in imposing billions of extra burdens on them”.

Mr Murphy said it was a matter for Minister Noonan whether he felt Mr Trichet saying “ a bomb would go off in Dublin” if bondholders were burned was “threatening language”.

There have been calls from some opposition TDs for Mr Noonan to correct the Dáil record for saying in 2011 that “no threatening langauge had been used” by Mr Trichet.

“I’ll go with what Michael Noonan said in the Oireachtas inquiry which is that the word bomb was used and in that context it can be seen as a threat made to Ireland, ” said Mr Murphy.