Cowen rules out inquiry into banking crisis in near future

 

TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen has ruled out the holding of an inquiry into the banking crisis in the short term in the face of continued calls from Opposition parties for one to be established.

Mr Cowen yesterday reiterated his view that there was an onus on the Government to prioritise its work towards a stable banking system, rather than diverting resources into an investigation into how the largest financial institutions were brought to the brink of collapse.

But the Labour Party accused him of being the only political figure in the country who continues to oppose an inquiry.

Leader Eamon Gilmore claimed that Mr Cowen seemed intent on applying the “30-year rule” on the release of Government papers to the banking crisis.

Mr Cowen, speaking to reporters in Dublin, said that an inquiry would not happen until Nama had started its work of arriving at valuations of property, and until the impact of those valuations on recapitalisation was known.

He did not dismiss the need for an inquiry but gave no indication of when it may be held.

“We are emphasising as a Government, as we must, that the priority for the moment must be to solve the problem and then dealing with the sources of the issues that arose,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said the party would be tabling a parliamentary motion calling for an inquiry, as well as tabling a new Private Members’ Bill, when the Dáil returns.

The Labour leader alleged that Mr Cowen’s four years as minister for finance immediately prior to the banking crisis was causing him concern, as “his reluctance to have an inquiry is to do with covering his own track”, he said.

“A banking inquiry is necessary to restore confidence in banking. We seem to be the only country that says, ‘Let’s brush it under the carpet and continue on’,” he said.

Editorial comment: page 13