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Banks’ collapse raises fundamental legal issue

ARTICLE 45 of the constitution states that “the operation of free competition shall not be allowed so to develop as to result in the concentration of the ownership or control of essential commodities in a few individuals to the common detriment”.

It is obvious now that even the Government admits this has happened. The banks, according to the Government, are essential commodities which competed, got out of control and are now responsible for the common detriment (see the recent budget).

But the constitution states this shall not be allowed to happen. It begs the question who was responsible for preventing it from happening? Who has been getting paid by the people for the past 10 years to ensure, for example, that the banks would not behave in a fashion that could be to the common detriment. Could it possibly have been the Government? Could it be Fianna Fáil, the PDs (remember them?) and the Greens ?

If so, have they not acted in an unconstitutional manner? According to the Department of the Taoiseach, the constitution is “the basic law of Ireland”.

Given our current circumstances, has a law been broken by those responsible for upholding it? A trial (televised, of course) of Bertie Ahern, Mary Harney, Brian Lenihan, Martin Cullen, Michael McDowell, et al — all answering to the charge “you are hereby accused by the Irish people” — would make for riveting viewing. Now that would be reality TV.

John Mallon

Shamrock Grove




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