'Robust' legislation to allow for bank inquiry - Howlin

Wednesday 26 June 2013 18.20
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Brendan Howlin said the callousness shown in the Anglo tapes was 'mind blowing'
Brendan Howlin said the callousness shown in the Anglo tapes was 'mind blowing'
David Drumm was heard laughing as the German national anthem was sung by executives
David Drumm was heard laughing as the German national anthem was sung by executives
John Bowe last night said the language he used in a recording released yesterday was imprudent and inappropriate
John Bowe last night said the language he used in a recording released yesterday was imprudent and inappropriate

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said he is working on legislation to allow for a parliamentary inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the State bank guarantee.

He said he hoped the legislation to enable an inquiry into the banking collapse would be enacted within weeks and that would allow an inquiry to happen in the autumn session

Mr Howlin said other countries had held robust parliamentary inquiries and he could see no reason why it could not be done in Ireland.

Earlier, the issue was raised in the Dáil following the publication of further recorded conversations by the Irish Independent between executives at the former Anglo Irish Bank in 2008.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm is heard being dismissive about the bank guarantee and urging executives to "get the money in".

Mr Drumm is also heard laughing as one of his executives sings the historic German national anthem as deposits from Germany flowed into Anglo as a result of the bank guarantee.

The call was recorded on 2 October 2008, just two days after the introduction of the guarantee.

At the time, some European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were concerned about the impact it might have on their banking systems.

Mr Drumm was recorded talking with senior manager John Bowe, who last night said the language he used in a recording released yesterday was imprudent and inappropriate.

The two senior executives heard in recordings released yesterday - Mr Bowe and Peter FitzGerald - have denied allegations that they participated in misleading the Central Bank in 2008, shortly before the bank guarantee was introduced.

Mr FitzGerald has also said he regrets the tone of his conversation.

Calls for banking inquiry grow

The Taoiseach has said he hopes to see a parliamentary inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bank guarantee under way early in the autumn.

Enda Kenny said such an inquiry would have to look into what he called the "axis of collusion" between Anglo Irish Bank and Fianna Fáil.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said "we need to get at the truth here".

Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin said the Taoiseach's comments showed that any such inquiry would be partisan.

Mr Martin suggested that the Government set up an inquiry with an international judge and the full powers of a tribunal.

He said he does not believe a parliamentary inquiry is required.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the buck stops with the Taoiseach and asked what the Government was going to do about the situation revealed by the tapes.

He said it was clear that government ministers were meeting bankers at the time of the banking collapse in 2008.

Mr Kenny said that when the Department of Finance became aware of questionable activities at Anglo, gardaí were informed and the tapes were supplied to the garda investigation.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath asked how many more "scoundrels" were in the vaults of Anglo and the other banks.

Mr Kenny said that as Opposition leader he received a briefing in Anglo Irish Bank headquarters in St Stephen's Green.

He said it now transpired that the presentation was "a tissue of untruths and fabrication".

Minister Howlin said the callousness shown in the Anglo tapes was "mind blowing".

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One, he said anyone who was involved in making decisions that led to the banking collapse "should have no hand, act or part in the reconstructed banking sector".

Revelations make securing EU funding more difficult - Gilmore

Elsewhere, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has described the latest revelations as "really shocking," adding that they would make the job of Ireland securing EU funding for recapitalising the surviving banks more difficult.

"The degree of arrogance, the degree of hubris, the degree of couldn't care less about the taxpayer, about the Irish people, that seemed to be part and parcel of the culture of that bank," he said.

He also dismissed Sinn Féin's complaint the Government was dragging its feet on the banking inquiry.

Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the Government should stop its "mock outrage" at the recordings and immediately establish a banking inquiry.

He said: "It is incredible that the public has to rely on drip feed info from news reports about what went on in Anglo Irish Bank around the time of the bank guarantee."

Mr Gilmore said Sinn Féin could not walk away from its decision to support the bank guarantee in 2008.

He said: "I never believed that bank should have been given a guarantee. I think what we're seeing emerging from these tapes confirms that that position was right."

Mr Gilmore said the tapes underlined the need for an inquiry into the banking crisis and the events surrounding the bank guarantee.

Ryan says there were no easy options

Elsewhere, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said history would tell if that government was right or wrong in attempting to prevent the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Ryan, who was minister for energy and communications at the time of the bank guarantee, said the government was hearing from the Central Bank that lessons should be learned from the US Great Depression in the 1930s, and that they should not let the banking sector collapse.

Mr Ryan said that Anglo Irish Bank was half the size of the Irish economy.

He said that there were "no easy options" and he believed that because Anglo and AIB were "intertwined completely", if the first went, so too would the second and Bank of Ireland would have followed.

Mr Ryan called for an immediate Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crisis, including an examination of the years between 2002 and 2007.

He said that after that period Anglo "was always going to go bust" and described it as "fundamentally unsound".

Mr Ryan also called on gardaí and the Director of Corporate Enforcement to report what progress they have made in their own inquiries into the bank.

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