Taoiseach undecided on repeat inquiry referendum

A fresh referendum giving the Oireachtas more powers of inquiry is being considered by the Taoiseach, after his plans to have TDs and senators investigate the banking collapse in a committee failed to fully satisfy senior ministers.

Taoiseach undecided on repeat inquiry referendum

Enda Kenny told the Dáil that the idea of a re-run of the referendum — which was narrowly defeated in Oct 2011 — had been put to him. “I haven’t given any definitive answer to that yet,” he said.

The Taoiseach said the Government’s preferred option was to pass legislation before the summer that would allow an Oireachtas committee begin an inquiry in the autumn.

However, a number of senior ministers believe this would not be enough to satisfy the public demand for accountability after the banking collapse that cost the taxpayer €64bn.

At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Labour’s Joan Burton is understood to have proposed bringing in a judge or qualified expert to carry out a scoping exercise to guide TDs and senators on their investigations

And Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that a second referendum — which would, for example, allow the Oireachtas to find adverse findings of facts against individuals — was a “possibility”.

However, Fianna Fáil has insisted that politicians would not be partial enough to carry out the inquiry.

The party leader, Micheál Martin, said the Taoiseach’s charge of an “axis of collusion” between Fianna Fáil and bankers was “false and untrue and a smear on Brian Cowen and the late Brian Lenihan”.

“The Taoiseach was talking about an independent, impartial inquiry. And at the same time he sets himself up as judge, jury and executioner. You cannot do that.”

He said the public’s decision to reject the referendum has been “vindicated by the behaviour of the Taoiseach because his partisanship on this is extraordinary”.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore said the Anglo tapes and revelations about banking executives have done damage to Ireland’s international reputation: “I’m very glad that we didn’t have this coverage in the week or two leading into negotiations with European authorities on the promissory note.”

He said if these recordings had emerged before a deal on the promissory note payments in February: “It would have very, very seriously damaged and compromised our ability to land that deal at that time.”

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he hoped the revelations did not do permanent damage to the country’s reputation.

The Central Bank said it is “carefully studying” the transcripts of conversations between Anglo executives.

“This is something that is viewed very seriously,” it said in a statement. “The Central Bank will be liaising with the gardaí in this regard and is also examining whether or not any breaches of regulatory requirements may have occurred arising from the information contained in the transcripts.”

German outrage at content of Anglo tapes

*Germans are disgusted and offended at reported comments that show executives of the failed Anglo Irish Bank targeted German deposits and one banker singing ‘Deutschland über alles’, a German politician said.

“We are offended,” Michael Fuchs, deputy parliamentary leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union told RTÉ in an interview. “If you have a feeding hand you shouldn’t bite into it.”

Fuchs said “it’s really dangerous” language as German lawmakers try to convince local taxpayers to support European countries, such as Ireland.

“It’s absolutely unbearable that somebody is talking like this.”

The lines from Germany’s anthem that aren’t used any more are attributed to John Bowe, the former head of capital markets at Anglo. Bowe said in a statement that the language used in the recordings “was imprudent and inappropriate”.

Fuchs said he didn’t believe Europe’s permanent bailout fund will be able to retrospectively provide funds to bailed-out surviving Irish banks.

“As far as retrospective is concerned this is not going to be possible because the ESM can only go forward and not back. I have the feeling it is only for future problems but not for those prior to 2012.”

— Finbarr Flynn (Bloomberg)

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