Banking inquiry advises taking ECB to court over refusal to allow Ireland burn bondholders

The Oireachtas banking inquiry is to recommend that the Government takes legal action against the European Central Bank (ECB), over its refusal to allow Ireland burn bondholders in 2010 and 2011, the Irish Examiner can reveal.

Banking inquiry advises taking ECB to court over refusal to allow Ireland burn bondholders

The news comes despite two members of the much-maligned inquiry saying they cannot support its final report, in what was a damaging day for its credibility.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty were both accused by some of their fellow members of acting “naked politically” after they confirmed they would not support the final report.

Members of the committee and minsters accused Mr Doherty of “acting on instruction” from Sinn Féin bosses rather than deciding for himself.

Pearse Doherty
Pearse Doherty

Labour junior minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it appeared that Mr Doherty’s decision to not sign the report was made at a higher level within Sinn Féin. “Most decisions made by Sinn Féin TDs are not entirely made by themselves. I don’t know what is in the report, Sinn Féin tend to work on instruction rather than on their own opinion,” he said.

That charge was strongly rejected last night.

After a marathon session yesterday, members signed off on the 11-chapter report, including a findings and recommendations section, which proved immensely difficult to conclude.

The inquiry team scrapped an executive summary and instead worked late to finalise a four-page chairman’s summary.

“We have done the best we could. It is far from perfect but there is new stuff in there and we have gotten further than anyone expected we would,” said one inquiry source.

The Irish Examiner understands that the final report calls on the Government to instruct the attorney general to explore all legal remedies that the Irish State can pursue against the ECB, over actions in 2010 and 2011 to prohibit the burning of senior bondholders.

The report is also said to criticise the role of regulators, the banks and the previous Fianna Fáil-led governments, according to sources.

Such weakness and disagreements with the tone of the report led both Mr Higgins and Mr Doherty to announce their intention not to sign the report.

In a two-line statement, Mr Higgins said: “I confirm that I have formally told the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis that I am not in a position to sign the draft report.”

Joe Higgins
Joe Higgins

Earlier, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said he was unable to sign off on the banking inquiry report: “The people have the right to know how the banking crisis came about, who was responsible and to be assured that it would never happen again. While the report includes new information, it fails to fully answer the questions regarding how the crisis came about and who was responsible. Our people deserve the full truth.”

He said that was why he was unable to sign off on the committee report.

Despite their resignations, the committee can approve the report by majority and the report will go for legal review before being handed out to third parties who are named in the report.

However, inquiry sources warned legal changes will have to be made by the committee which could still jeopardise final delivery of the report.

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