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FF: Claims of no bank guarantee documents are ‘a lie’, and this FOI proves it

The government continues to insist that there are no documents in existence which explain the rationale behind the decision to guarantee the banks in September 2008.

Brian Lenihan, then Finance Minister, holds a press conference on the day the State guarantee of the banks was issued.
Brian Lenihan, then Finance Minister, holds a press conference on the day the State guarantee of the banks was issued.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE TAOISEACH’S REPEATED claim that there are no records in his Department of the rationale behind the decision to issue a blanket guarantee of Irish banks nearly five years ago has come under scrutiny again in light of the Anglo Tapes.

Enda Kenny continued to insist last week that “there is no record in the Department of the Taoiseach of the conversations about this matter between bankers and those who were in government”.

His claim has been strenuously denied by Fianna Fáil which has released a document to TheJournal.ie which outlines a schedule of all documents relating to the bank guarantee, many of which cannot be released because of government confidentiality.

A spokesperson for Fianna Fàil has described the Taoiseach’s claims as a “disingenuous smear campaign” and “a lie”. But a government spokesperson insisted this week: “There is nothing to document the rationale behind the decision that was taken by the government. Nothing.”

The document is what is known as a ‘schedule of records’ and lists 146 documents which are relevant to the request from Fianna Fáil for “a copy of all notes, memos, documents and briefing material available in the Department of the Taoiseach in relation to the banking guarantee of 2008, all internal documents in relation to the guarantee, any notes from meetings with experts and outside groups in relation to the guarantee since the guarantee was approved in 2008 and any notes that contained references to shredding documents about the banking guarantee”.

‘No rationale’

Of the 146 documents 106 have been withheld, 31 have been released in full and four have been partially released. Many of the records are withheld under section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act which concerns the confidentiality of government records.

Descriptions of the withheld documents include ‘minutes of Government meeting’, a ‘memorandum for government’, a ‘draft guarantee bill’ and notes concerning discussions on 30 September 2008  -  the date the Fianna Fáil-led government made the decision to guarantee the banks.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie a government spokesperson insisted that this document does not disprove the Taoiseach’s repeated claims of there being no record of the rationale behind the decision to guarantee the banks.

“What we have is, and it has been released under Freedom of Information already, is a few years of procedural and administrative documents that refer to certain meetings taking place but no evidence of any discussion, no minutes, no memorandum,” the spokesperson said.

They added: “I think it’s very reasonable to point out, as the Taoiseach said at the time and as the Taoiseach does now, that there exists no documentation as to the rationale behind that decision. There isn’t anything.”

‘No file’

Fianna Fáil said the the circumstances leading up to the guarantee of the banking system are laid out in three independent reports including the report by the current Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.

In his report of May 2010, Honohan wrote: “A detailed review of the ensuing discussions is hampered by the absence of an extensive written record of what transpired.”

Enda Kenny first claimed that no documents existed in his Department in July of last year, telling the Dáil: “There is no file in the Department of the Taoiseach. There is no file on the discussions or the meetings that took place, and the rationale applied to that.”

A spokesperson for Fianna Fáil said that the schedule of records proves the Taoiseach’s claim to be “demonstrably untrue” and has described the government’s position as being a “completely disingenuous smear campaign that they are running”.

“They are throwing up new things that they know are just ridiculous,” the spokesperson added.

Micheál Martin: ‘There is no mystery about what happened on the night of the bank guarantee’

Read: After four years and €64.1 billion, bank guarantee is finally scrapped

Read: 9 videos that sum-up Ireland’s banking and economic collapse

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