TD wishes to widen banking inquiry terms of reference

An Independent TD nominated to sit on the Oireachtas banking inquiry wants to widen its terms of reference to include the property bubble, as well as the actions of the current Government.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said yesterday that he believed Taoiseach Enda Kenny should also be called before the probe to answer questions about how he “continued the bailout”.

Mr Higgins was nominated by the Dáil’s technical group to replace Independent TD Stephen Donnelly on the inquiry’s committee ahead of its first meeting tomorrow.

His nomination comes amid a row over the Government moving to secure a majority on the committee ahead of its terms being decided by members.

Mr Higgins met with fellow Independent TDs yesterday and afterwards said that he had an obligation to sit on the inquiry to represent ordinary people.

“There should be no question of this being a very narrow task limited to the bank guarantee of 2008,” said Mr Higgins. “It is my firm view that there must be an investigation of the blowing up of the property bubble and the speculation and profiteering that accompanied it.”

Banks, legislators, and politicians needed to be quizzed, he said.

Furthermore, the role of the European Central Bank and the troika in pressurising the State to underwrite banking losses should be probed, he said.

The inquiry had to include alleged threats made by the ECB to Finance Minister Michael Noonan if the Government had made bondholders take losses, said Mr Higgins. “Nothing else is acceptable,” he added.

He said the actions of the coalition in continuing to implement the bailout policies should be examined.

Those who should appear included Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who “continued the bailout”, and former taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern, he added.

Mr Kenny yesterday insisted that the banking inquiry would be “free from any direction” or instruction.

The inquiry’s 11-member committee, chaired by TD Ciarán Lynch, will hold its first meeting behind closed doors tomorrow in Leinster House, where its preparatory work will be discussed.

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