Concern over Government use of advisers also linked to banks


SEANAD REPORT:EUGENE REGAN (FG) expressed concern over the Government taking legal and financial advice from firms which were also advising the banking sector. According to reports, PricewaterhouseCoopers acted as auditor to Bank of Ireland while they were advising the Government.

Arthur Cox Solicitors was advising both the bank and the Minister. Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan had given the blase response that these organisations had Chinese walls to prevent any conflict of interest.

However, this was like a law firm acting for the buyer and the seller and the financial organisation in one of the most important transactions in the history of the State. It was important that when the Minister was taking advice from auditors, accountancy, consultancy or legal firms, that he took independent advice and ensured that the firms providing it were not acting for other parties who had an interest in the same transaction.

Mr Regan said the Taoiseach had suggested that calls for the naming of the Anglo Irish 10 was the equivalent of asking the Garda to name suspects in a particular case. This was a false comparison. It was time the Government disclosed the information that was being requested.

Shane Ross (Ind) said there were people “not far away from here” who knew the names of those who had been involved in the support operation for Anglo Irish Bank. It would relieve some of the reasonable public disquiet if these names were disclosed without any prejudice.

The essential question this country had to confront was whether we were facing national bankruptcy. A reputable economist had suggested that we were heading in that direction. It was not necessarily helpful to constantly bash the Government on this issue. There were others involved who had contributed to the current state of affairs. The root problem in financial regulation was the Financial Regulator.

Mr Ross said he was tired of hearing some politicians saying there was no need to worry because what had gone on in the banks was being investigated by the regulator. This was an institution that had lost the faith of the international markets.

“They think it is actually genetically flawed. That is the problem we’re going to have to attack next.”


Fidelma Healy Eames(FG) said she wondered where was former taoiseach Bertie Ahern “in all of this. Chances are he has lots of information that he could share with us. I would call on him to come clean and give information for the sake of political and economic stability”.

Marc MacSharry(FF) said it was disgraceful that Opposition members were making accusations based on anecdotal rubbish from the streets and the gutters.

David Norris(Ind) said the Government had spoken about tweaking the pensions levy Bill. “I can tell you one thing: that people will tweak this Government the first opportunity they get.”

Terry Leyden(FF) said that for the sake of democracy and politics the Anglo Irish 10 should own up and admit that they had got €300 million under false pretences. He had a list of some of those involved, but he would not name names.

Alex White(Lab) said he would encourage members to read the devastating analysis by Donal Casey in The Irish Times.