TDs may ask for more powers in referendum rerun

Voters may be asked next year to give TDs sweeping powers to apportion blame for the banking crisis in a rerun of the failed Oireachtas inquiries referendum.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has signalled the question could be posed again in the wake of the Anglo tapes scandal.

He said such a poll would not delay the plans for an Oireachtas probe into the financial collapse under new laws set to come into force later this month.

Voters refused to grant the Dáil increased investigative powers in a 2011 referendum, which means TDs and senators are forbidden from reaching adverse findings when probing matters of public concern.

“I wouldn’t rule out revisiting that issue but I don’t think we should certainly park an investigation until we craft new legislation,” said Mr Howlin.

“The demand, the urg-ency, the requirement, of the Irish people is to get on with the people’s business now. We have a robust legislative framework in which this can be done and we should get on with it,” he told RTÉ.

The move came as Finance Minister Micheal Noonan branded the revelations in the Anglo tapes “appalling”.

Mr Noonan said he had to temper his remarks as he did not want to repeat mistakes made by previous ministers when their comments prejudiced criminal proceedings.

Pressed on the slow progress the Government has made on dealing with former Anglo figures, he said: “Three people have been charged, I understand it has gone to books of evidence. The books of evidence are being scrutinised and hopefully that will appear before the courts in the first half of next year.

“It’s up to the prosecution authorities and the criminal justice authorities to deal with it.”

The comments came as a new poll showed the Anglo row had damaged the standing of Fianna Fáil.

The Red C/Sunday Business Post survey saw support for the party drop four points to 22%, with Fine Gael gaining two points to 28%, Sinn Féin up one to 17%, Labour also up one to 12%, and independents remaining on 21%.

And as the global impact of the Anglo tapes mounted, Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, slammed the Irish bankers caught on tape joking about a bailout, calling them “aloof superhumans” worthy of contempt.

“These bankers seem to like themselves in the role of aloof superhumans who only have contempt for their fellow humans,” he said.

“Instead it is they who should get our contempt and to whose game we should put a stop.”

Mr Schäuble said the recordings highlighted “how necessary and important it was to introduce clear rules into the financial markets”.

“Exceptions show that it remains important not to think that everything is well now but to stay cautious and alert, in order to fight such scheming.”

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