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Public demand for full investigation into banking crisis to be answered

The probe could see former government ministers, civil servants and banking executives account for their actions ahead of the September 2008 bank guarantee

Newspapers from 30 September 2008, the morning of the bank guarantee and Wall Street meltdown
Newspapers from 30 September 2008, the morning of the bank guarantee and Wall Street meltdown
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE CHAIR OF the Public Accounts Committee has said that there is a public demand for a full inquiry into the decisions that were taken in the lead up to the banking guarantee of September 2008.

Speaking to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One this morning, John McGuinness said that people need to hear publicly from those “centrally involved” in the guarantee and other matters which have led to the current financial crisis.

His committee, one of the most powerful in the Dáil, hopes the Government will be able to push through strong legislation allowing for such a comprehensive inquiry in the very near future.

According to reports in both the Sunday Times and Sunday Independent today, former taoiseach Brian Cowen could be called as a witness, as could senior civil servants Dermot McCarthy and David Doyle.

Other possible interviewees would include former AIB and Bank of Ireland chief executives and chairmen Eugene Sheehy, Dermot Gleeson, Brian Goggin and Richard Burrows.

McGuinness said that some people may actually want to go on record to detail why they took the decisions they did before that fateful night of 29/30 September 2008.

The PAC has been working on a report on how to conduct the probe which it will bring to Government at the end of this month, according to McGuinness.

We have to decide how comprehensive we want to be and what legislation is needed which will support that…[then] we will be able to decide the structure.

“We are aware of the legal minefield it presents,” he said. “We don’t want to be run into the sand legally. That is why it has taken so long to get the report finalised. It will be a signpost for the Government to follow.”

The Fianna Fáil TD said an open and public hearing is essential and the PAC is the best vehicle to carry out such a piece of work.

“We…need to learn from [the economic bust] and correct what has gone wrong,” he added, explaining that there were gaps in the various reports (such as the Honohan and Nyburg studies) that have already been written on the banking crisis.

According to the Sunday Independent, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has said that he is “eagerly awaiting” the proposals and that he would expedite any necessary legislations.

Although the electorate refused to grant extra powers to Oireachtas committees to carry out inquiries of this nature in last year’s referendum, the PAC has more powers than its counterparts to compel witnesses to testify.

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