Kenny hints at re-run of Oireachtas inquiries referendum

Taoiseach admits banking inquiry was limited and constrained in its investigation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with  Jer Bergin from the Irish Farmers’ Association.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Jer Bergin from the Irish Farmers’ Association.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has hinted at the possibility of holding another referendum to give Oireachtas committees more powers in the wake of the banking inquiry.

Mr Kenny acknowledged the inquiry had been “limited and constrained” in its ability to examine and pronounce on the causes of Ireland’s financial crash but rejected claims its final report was “worse than useless”.

He said he intended to reflect on how inquiries of this nature would be held in the future and, specifically, whether members of the Oireachtas should have the constitutional and legal authority to carry out investigations.

A referendum on Oireachtas powers to examine the conduct of individuals and make findings of fact against them was rejected in 2011, with 52 per cent voting No.

“I think I’d like to reflect on the question again as to whether the Oireachtas and future members of the Oireachtas would actually be able to do an inquiry like this…and whether it should be considered that we might have a future referendum again on that matter,” Mr Kenny said after a meeting with officials from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in Dublin on Thursday.

“So that if inquiries of this nature are ever to be carried out again, whoever serves on them from the Oireachtas would have the constitutional and legal authority to carry out full and investigative inquiries in a way that they might have been able to do had the referendum been carried,” he said.

The Labour Party has indicated that a rerun of the referendum may form part of the party’s election manifesto.

Several members of the banking inquiry team have defended the inquiry’s final report, claiming it was the best they could have done under the tight time and legal constraints.

However, Professor Bill Black, a law and economics professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City criticised the report, claiming it was “worse than useless”.

Prof Black, a former US banking regulator said the report backs up “this fictional story that the crisis was simply a matter of risk. In other words, it was just bad luck.”

“The story is pure myth and you can tell because the banks, due to the direction from the top, did things that will always cause the destruction of banks, things we’ve known for hundreds of years,” he told Newstalk Radio.

Prof Black, who presided over the prosecution of hundreds of financial officials, said: “If you don’t do your underwriting then you lose money on loans but for the short term you report record profits.”

He said the Irish banks “grew like crazy by making really crappy loans” at high nominal interest rates, ran up a lot of debt and put aside virtually no loss reserves”.

“That’s what we call the recipe for accounting control fraud in the criminology business,” he said.