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Micheál Martin: Government wants to use banking inquiry as 'a political show trial'

The Fianna Fail insists he’s not worried about the impact that any Oireachtas investigation into the banking collapse will have on his party in the European and local elections.

Micheál Martin speaking in Dublin yesterday
Micheál Martin speaking in Dublin yesterday
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS hit out at the government over the planned banking inquiry and the possibility it could overlap with the forthcoming local and European elections.

The Oireachtas inquiry into the collapse of the Irish banking system six years ago is likely to get under way this year with suggestions that the government may orchestrate it to inflict maximum political damage on Fianna Fáil who were in office at the time.

The establishment of the inquiry is a matter for the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges on which the government has a majority.

Martin told the media in Dublin yesterday that the coalition “will try that” and added: “The government want to use the banking inquiry as a kind of a political show trial or whatever like that.”

But he claimed that it would not have an impact on Fianna Fáil’s performance in the crucial May elections. Previous revelations about the period around the bank guarantee or the party’s time in office have impacted it in the opinion polls.

For example, the publication of the Anglo Tapes by the Irish Independent last summer saw Fianna Fáil drop by four points in the Sunday Business Post’s Red C tracker poll. There had also been revelations around party TD John McGuinness’s time as a junior minister in the lead-up to the poll.

But Martin insisted: “I remember the Meath by-election. We were averaging around 24 per cent at the time or whatever [but] we actually achieved 33 per cent in that by-election. So just be careful about the polls and the difference between them and the actual the outcome of elections.”

A poll yesterday found Fianna Fáil stable at 22 per cent, tied with independents.

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Last month, the party’s veteran TD, Éamon Ó Cuív, warned about about its ‘becalmed’ status in the polls, telling TheJournal.ie: “We just don’t seem to be going anywhere.”

The banking inquiry is likely to be taken up by a small number of TDs and could be headed by the current Oireachtas Finance Committee chair Ciaran Lynch, a Labour deputy.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously said that an inquiry should be “modular in nature” and that it should focus on three areas: the bank guarantee and the events leading up to it; the role of the banks and their auditors; and the role of State institutions.

Taoiseach: Ahern and Cowen won’t be reluctant to appear before banking inquiry

Read: Oireachtas committees fight for right to hold banking inquiry

More: ‘Too early’ to rule Anglo out of banking inquiry says committee chair

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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