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State of the Nation

Was Brian Cowen a good finance minister?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen is appearing before the banking inquiry today.

Albert Reynolds Funerals Scenes Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Cowen’s questioning will be split into two sessions, the first one kicked off shortly after 9.30am and the other will take place at 2.30pm.

Today’s meeting has focussed on his time as Finance Minister from 2004-2008. Cowen will appear again next week to discuss his tenure as leader of the country, the bank guarantee and the bailout.

So far, Cowen has been fairly combative – but did apologise for his role in the crisis.

We’re liveblogging the meeting here.

Cowen was a TD for Laois-Offaly from June 1984 until February 2011. He held several senior positions in government and served as Minister for Finance from September 2004 until May 2008, when he succeeded Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.

Committee chair Ciarán Lynch said members will ask Cowen about advice sought during the crisis, accountability of the regulatory and supervisory institutions of the state, and “the nature and appropriateness of the relationship” between the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator, the Department of Finance and banking institutions.

Yesterday, the committee was suspended for about 15 minutes after former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy refused to answer questions Pearse Doherty asked him about property bubbles.

McCreevy said the line of questioning didn’t technically relate to this tenure in office. After the committee sought legal advice, McCreevy was warned that he could be subject to criminal sanctions if he failed to cooperate.

That seemed to do the trick, and the rest of the proceedings went ahead as planned.

The agenda

  • Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen will appear before the banking inquiry today. Both sessions (from 9.30am and 2.30pm) will focus on his time as Finance Minister from 2004-2008.
  • Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin will answer questions in the Dáil at 9.30am.
  • Officials from the Revenue Commission will appear before the Public Accounts Committee at 10am to discuss local property tax and taxation of rental income.
  • TDs will debate the Environment Bill 2014, which covers water charges, at 10.45am.
  • The final Leaders’ Questions of the week will kick off at noon.
  • Taosieach Enda Kenny will meet John Boehner, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, at Farmleigh House at 1pm.

Inside Leinster House

The banking inquiry didn’t get much new information from Charlie McCreevy yesterday. Although it did learn he has hasn’t lost any of his confidence – or ability to answer a question like a politician.

Video / YouTube

What the others are saying

  • RTÉ reports that more than €65 million has been paid out in pensions to former politicians since the last general election.
  • Five TDs are supporting efforts by the family of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt on humanitarian grounds, according to the Irish Times.
  • A number of papers also report on the Dáil debate on the water services bill, with many opposition TDs saying the legislation is being rushed through.

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

Anti-bailout group Ballyhea Says No continued its efforts at the European Parliament.

Originally published: 9am

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