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Tánaiste defends Bank of Ireland share sale to 'vulture capitalists'

He was responding to questions from Tipperary South TD on “vulture capitalists” buying shares in the bank.

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has said that he is satisfied that the sale of Bank of Ireland shares in 2011 was “above board and transparent”.

He was responding to questions from Independent TD Seamus Healy during Leaders’ Questions, who asked how “a consortium of North American vulture capitalists” bought the shares at a discounted rate to what the government paid.

The South Tipperary TD said that the government bought a 15 per cent stake in the bank for “around €4 billion”, while others received 37 per cent for €1.123 billion.


(Image Credit: Screengrab/Oireachtas.ie)

He also referenced a interview with Bloomberg TV earlier this year, in which investor Wilbur Ross said that Bank of Ireland was one of his best investments.

‘Considerable welcome’

“I think if you go back to the period of time involved,” the Tánaiste said, “there was very considerable welcome that the government was able to sell shares in Bank of Ireland.

“I wish it was different. I wish we didn’t have the crisis in the banking system that we inherited”

He added that the stabilisation of the bank was one of the foundations of the country’s economic recovery.

The Tánaiste was also asked by Deputy Healy whether or not the taxpayer would be required to further recapitalise the bank if it fails ECB stress tests next year, and if he agreed that the only option available if they failed would be nationalisation.

He said that the government now has to focus on growth, and “drive on, get the economic growth, get the jobs, and get the increased propriety tat will come from  that will come from a growing economy”.

‘Stop that innuendo’

Deputy Healy also made allegations relating to a former senior civil servant, during which he was interrupted by the Ceann Comhairle.

Tánaiste responded that he would not comment on individual cases, and asked the Deputy to “stop that innuendo and side-of-the-mouth allegations”.

“If you want to make an allegation, make the allegation,” he said, “and if you are sure of the allegation, make it outside of the House.”


(Image Credit: Screengrab/Oireachtas.ie)

The Ceann Comhairle reminded members of the House at the end of the exchange of the conditions of qualified privilege, that it is “a long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable”.

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Read: Bank levy will cost Bank of Ireland €40 million a year >

More: Five Irish banks included in ECB stress-test plans >

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Nicky Ryan

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