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State of the Nation

ECB to Ireland: We don't have to answer to you

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

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Everyone’s talking about

The banking inquiry will begin its public hearings today. Finnish banking expert Peter Nyberg and former Canadian civil servant Rob Wright will be the first public witnesses. In 2011 Nyberg’s report found that the willingness of banks to issue high-value loans for risky commercial property was a fundamental cause of the banking crash.

Yesterday it emerged the European Central Bank will not be sending any representatives to appear before the committee.

ECB President Mario Draghi wrote to Labour’s Ciarán Lynch, chair of the inquiry committee, explaining that the bank “does not see itself in a position to participate in inquiries conducted by national parliaments and will therefore not appoint a dedicated contact person”.

Tweet by @Michael McGrath Michael McGrath / Twitter Michael McGrath / Twitter / Twitter

Draghi said the ECB is primarily held to account by the European Parliament. He added that the institution has published “a number of documents on its website to provide additional information and to illustrate its views about macroeconomic developments in Ireland over recent years”.

Can’t read the letter? Click here.

Lynch described the bank’s response as “disappointing”.

I will be writing to the ECB to ask it to review its decision. However, I have always said that this is not about individuals or personalities but about the information that the ECB would make available to the Committee to assist us in our work. We still anticipate that the ECB will assist the Committee in providing any information we may request.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney told Morning Ireland he thought the ECB had made the “wrong decision” in deciding to not attend.

He said the banking collapse had “a huge impact on the lives of Irish people” and that the ECB played a role in the crisis “whether [they] like it or not”.

The agenda

  • 9.30am: The Banking Inquiry will finally begin its public hearings today, as outlined above.
  • 9.30am: Jobs Minister Richard Bruton will be answering questions related to his department in the Dáil.
  • 10.45am: Debate on the Water Services Bill will begin in the lower house. It will conclude at 12.51pm before resuming at 2pm. The discussion is expected to end at about 9.30pm. The news that the Bill would be guillotined did not go down well yesterday. 
  • Noon: The Taoiseach will have the floor during Leaders’ Questions.

Inside Leinster House…

A source close to the banking inquiry insisted that despite all the scepticism and doubts about how effective it can be, it will actually be the “Carlsberg of inquiries”.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Daily Mail reports that Enda Kenny’s 25-year-old neighbour and party colleague Darragh Loftus has been appointed to the board of SOLAS despite the fact the Department of Education rejected him for the role. 
  • The European Commission is set to scrap paid maternity leave and waste recycling rules, according to the Irish Examiner. The same paper reports that threatened cuts to Ireland’s fish catch were averted following talks with the EC.
  • The High Court has altered the bail terms of former politician Ivor Callely to allow him to go to Scotland for Christmas, according to the Irish Times.
  • Several papers are reporting that the Caibnet has agreed the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation in relation to the findings of the Guerin report.

In case you missed it

  • Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said that Ireland’s abortion laws are “too restrictive“.
  • Enda Kenny has formally withdrawn claims that documents related to the bank guarantee were shredded in the Department of the Taoiseach.
  • Gerry Adams has said that Sinead O’Connor should go to An Garda Síochána with her allegations that she was repeatedly sexually molested by a member of Sinn Féin when she was a child.
  • The Cabinet has decided that the Marriage Equality Referendum will happen in May. A vote on whether or not to lower the age at which a person can run for President (from 35 years to 21) will take place on the same day.
  • Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has been included on a list of the ‘most embarrassing MEPs’. He’s not happy about it

On the tweet machine

Ciara Conway faced the constant dilemma in our lives last night.

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