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Peter Mathews: We should hire the national basketball arena for the banking inquiry

The Reform Alliance TD has played down suggestions he is lobbying to be added to the inquiry in the wake of Stephen Donnelly’s departure.

Peter Mathews (File photo)
Peter Mathews (File photo)
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

PETER MATHEWS HAS said that he would not serve on the banking inquiry as it is currently set-up, distancing himself from suggestions he has been lobbying for support for his inclusion after Stephen Donnelly quit the Oireachtas committee.

The independent TD, who left Fine Gael last year and is affiliated to the Reform Alliance, has long sought to be included on the inquiry into the collapse of the Irish banking system.

However, efforts to add him to the committee failed despite the backing of all opposition parties in the Dáil last month.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Mathews distanced himself from suggestions he had been lobbying for support from members of the Dáil Technical Group after independent TD Stephen Donnelly quit the inquiry over concerns about government control at the weekend.

“If somebody approached me and said would I go on it, I would say only if Stephen Donnelly is reinstated and I don’t want any government control,” he said this morning.

The Technical Group is due to meet this afternoon to discuss who its nominee to replace Donnelly will be, with expectations that Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins will allow his name to go forward.

Mathews, a TD for Dublin South, described the government’s adding of two senators to the now 11-strong committee last week as “an affront to democracy”.

He said that members of the committee should resign from their political parties in order to have a truly independent and transparent inquiry.

Mathews also suggested that the forthcoming inquiry, which is due to meet for the first time this week, should hold its public hearings in the national basketball arena and include all of the members of the boards of Irish banks from the period between 2001 and 2008 as witnesses.

He explained: “We should hire the basketball arena for the start of this inquiry because you can fold down the seats and they’ll fall into useful corrals.

“All the members of the boards of the banks and building societies should be lined up and behind them the auditors and then present the balance sheets and say: ‘Please comment on what you saw and how you allowed the balance sheet to get like this.’”

He said this approach would mean the inquiry would be “all over in six months” as the bank balance sheets “speak for themselves” claiming that the average loan to deposit ratio in Irish banks at the height of the boom was 173 per cent.

The Oireachtas committee is more likely to confine its hearings, in private and public session, to the committee rooms in Leinster House.

Noonan: Fianna Fáil pulled a stroke over the banking inquiry “and fair dues to them”

Read: TDs decide not to put Peter Mathews on the banking inquiry

Read all of our coverage of the banking inquiry here > 

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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