The head of the Irish Bank Officials Association has called for an independent bank inquiry into the collapse of the financial sector instead of the proposed Oireachtas inquiry.
In a speech to the ICTU conference in Belfast, Larry Broderick said: “We are now five years into the crisis and there has been no genuinely comprehensive inquiry in the Republic of how this crisis came about, who was responsible, and who should still be held to account. A handful of reports have been reproduced on specific issues but [we haven’t had] the comprehensive investigation that is necessary to understand the interactions between the various players — such as senior banking executives, regulatory authorities, government departments, developers and politicians.
“This much we do know: the crisis was not caused by a handful of rogue elements in one bank, no matter how disgraceful they have been revealed to be in recent newspaper revelations. The crisis was not even caused by a few rogues in a few banks. It was a systemic failure on a colossal scale — with many authors.”
Mr Broderick called for an inquiry presided over by a current or former member of the judiciary. The focus of this inquiry should be on what role the management and auditors played in the crisis. What were the regulatory shortcomings? What was the role of the Government in pushing inappropriate economic policies.
He argued against the Oireachtas holding the inquiry because it had the potential to end up in a political stalemate.
The Government is currently putting through legislation that would allow an Oireachtas inquiry to begin at the start of 2014. It still has to be decided whether the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or the Finance Committee will conduct the inquiry.
Fine Gael TD Pascal Donohue favours a new committee being formed: “If the PAC is picked to hold the inquiry then members of the Finance Committee such as Stephen Donnelly and Michael McGrath, who would be very capable of working on this inquiry, would be excluded.
“If there is a new committee, then it would be up to political parties to decide which members should be included.”
Mr Donohue said the inquiry should take a modular approach, which would limit its potential to jeopardise court cases against former Anglo Irish Bank executives scheduled for early 2014: “Initially we could focus on what happened between the years 2004 and 2008. There are other areas we could look at including what happened at AIB and Bank of Ireland. It isn’t all about Anglo Irish Bank.”
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