IN HIS LAST address to the Dáil, Pat Rabbitte TD has called on the next government to consider legal action against the ECB.
Rabbitte’s final speech was typically passionate and occurred as members were speaking about yesterday’s publication of the banking inquiry report.
The six-time elected deputy said that “it is clear” that the ECB “threatened Ireland on two occasions” against imposing haircuts on senior bondholders.
He went on to criticise how the ECB treated the inquiry itself.
The ECB’s former president Jean-Claude Trichet refused to give formal evidence to the inquiry but answered questions from committee members in Dublin. Its current president Mario Draghi also refused to give evidence before the inquiry.
“Dáil Éireann, Leas Ceann Comhairle, cannot signal approval for the cavalier treatment of the inquiry by the ECB,” he said.
Given the flaws exposed in the ECB’s own architecture, is it unacceptable that an occasional appearance in the European Parliament is the only gesture to accountability.
Rabbitte said that the government of which he was a part was resolved to burden sharing that would have benefited the Irish exchequer to the tune of €14.9 billion.
This he said was blocked by the ECB.
The savings made in respect of subordinated bondholders means that the net cost of the ECB veto to the Irish exchequer was in excess of €9 billion. This was the second occasion that the ECB stopped a sovereign Irish government from imposing haircuts on holders of unsecured and guaranteed bonds.
Rabbitte said subsequent actions in Cyprus and Greece showed that the ECB could have allowed Ireland impose the haircuts.
“The question remains whether the ECB had the legal authority to impose arbitrary costs on the Irish exchequer in pursuit of broader Eurozone objectives,” he asked.
Rabbitte went on to say that he hopes the next government will consider launching legal action against the ECB to seek damages over its actions.
The last time
Rabbitte made reference to his speech being his last in the house:
It has been a unique privilege to have been elected to this house by the people of Dublin South-West in six successive general elections. And I would like to thank those people who work with me here and outside.
Rabbitte finished his address by encouraging the next government to hold another referendum on allowing the Oireachtas to hold full inquiries.
This, he says, is relevant given the legal impediments faced by the banking inquiry during its investigations.
A referendum to give such investigative powers to the Oireachtas was rejected by the people in 2011.
Quoting the dissenting judgement of Chief Justice Keane following the Abbeylara case, Rabbitte argued that,
The power of Oireachtas to carry out investigations is inherent in the legislative process.