Banking inquiry: Coughlan says nobody raised concerns

Ex-tánaiste claims she can’t remember any cabinet member querying bank regulation

Former tánaiste Mary Coughlan. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Former tánaiste Mary Coughlan. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Former tánaiste Mary Coughlan has admitted that nobody in government raised concerns about the supervision of banks before September 2008.

Ms Coughlan said she could not recall any cabinet member questioning the strength of regulation or worrying that “day-to-day regulation of Irish banks was not robust enough”.

Ms Coughlan defended the Fianna Fáil-led government’s record in office and said it took the action needed to address the crisis, stabilising public finances and making “difficult, unpalatable and, in many cases, unprecedented decisions”.

In a written statement to the banking inquiry, the former Fianna Fáil TD said: “I know that I and my colleagues, together with so many very dedicated public servants, worked tirelessly during that period to do everything we could to address the crisis, in good faith and in what we believed to be the long-term best interests of the Irish people.”

Warnings

Robert PyeDepartment of Finance

He said contrarian views were discouraged in the department and claimed there was a reluctance to tackle any issue that could prove to be politically sensitive.

Mr Pye said civil servants often put politics before facts, and “were all too willing to tell their masters what they wanted to hear . . . An expression one often heard in the department at that time was, ‘Don’t rock the boat’.”

Mr Pye criticised “the deeply clientelist nature of Irish politics”, adding: “People assume that the government cares about them, but this is a very naive attitude.

“For example, when in opposition, members of the current Government did virtually nothing to defend the Irish people in the Dáil against the government’s perverse fiscal policies.

“They were content to sit idly by for 10 years and wait their turn.”