Opposition: Publish Nationwide report now

A “SENSATIONAL” report revealing the failings that led to €5.4 billion of taxpayers’ money being pumped into Irish Nationwide must be made public, opposition parties demanded last night.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan was accused of hypocrisy for demanding openness in probing the banking collapse while in opposition, but “sitting on” a key investigation now he is in power.

The Department of Finance has been in possession of the final report by Ernst & Young and solicitors McCann Fitzgerald since the middle of last year, but insist the findings are subject to “legal privilege”.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath dismissed the claims, saying taxpayers still had the right to see it.

“I am led to understand this report is quite sensational and details unacceptable practices that prevailed in Nationwide.

“Those practices contributed to a situation whereby €5.4bn of public money was put into the building society because of how exposed it had become.

“The public should now be allowed to see how this came about and whether state agencies will now take any action because of it.

“Even if parts of the report need to be redacted for legal reasons, it must be placed in the public domain,” Mr McGrath said.

“We have a right to know what is in the report and how catastrophic the situation was in Nationwide that it needed €5.4bn worth of taxpayers’ money.”

“It should also be passed to the gardaí and other state agencies, like corporate enforcement, to see if they need to take any actions on foot of its findings,” he said.

Mr McGrath said he did not regret that the last Fianna Fáil-led government failed to release the interim reports into Nationwide in 2010 as, he said, the final probe that came out last summer after Fine Gael and Labour had taken over was the key version of events.

Mr Noonan said: “In view of the sensitive nature of the reports and their potential, if made public, to prejudice any future actions that may arise, I do not propose to publish the reports referred to at this time.”

Opposition figures said the stance was curious as Mr Noonan and other government leaders continually attacked the last government for not holding a proper, transparent investigation into what went wrong in the Irish banking system, which prompted the country’s financial collapse and subsequent bailout.

Irish Nationwide’s former chief executive, Michael Fingleton, has claimed he ran the organisation in the best possible manner.

At an Employment Appeals Tribunal last month he denied running Nationwide as a personal bank.

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