Shane Ross on calls for an Inquiry: “This is already a political battlefield…”

Following up on John’s post, Shane Ross said on RTE this morning that any inquiry into the Anglo Banking mess must be take place outside the political arena. He noted that Labour is already attacking Sinn Fein over their support of the bank guarantee scheme back in 2008. As John has already pointed out this is very delicate politically for Fianna Fail (tune in for Leaders Questions this afternoon for the first installment)…

Ross says the courts should be the route chosen, that the public have already rejected politicians having the power to investigate such matters at a referendum and the outcomes of the Moriarty and Flood tribunals were far from useful given the amount of money spent by the state.

Three senior officials from Anglo Irish are already going through the judicial process. Former chairman Seán FitzPatrick, former finance director Willie McAteer and former managing director of the bank in Ireland Pat Whelan in relation to charges of “giving unlawful financial assistance to buy shares” None of these yet feature in any of the tapes featured by the Independent.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 11.12.30What really features here is the contempt these guys had for both the regulator and the Department of Finance. They were doing in their dying days exactly what they’d been doing all along: ie, robbing Peter to Paul. As money from German and UK savers (some of whom were to get very badly burnt later on) poured in they reveled in the fact they were headed for safe berth inside government.

Many of the problems illustrated in these dramatic tapes have already been addressed. Cheifest of these is a banking regulator who has teeth (Matthew Delderfield, aka ‘the foreigner’) and is not afraid to use them.

If there are legitimate questions left to ask they are the more mundane political questions as to why the skins of these blokes were rescued when it must have been known at quite senior levels of government, that Anglo Irish was not essential to the system.

As Jonathan Guthrie notes the absence of a robust inquiry of some description provides powerful testimony to the culture of poor scrutiny in the Republic

Anglo Irish appears to have gone on bluffing a nation to which it had doled out so much of the finance needed to pump up property prices. Such gamesmanship would contrast unfavourably with the stoicism of a population that shouldered a fiscal retrenchment equivalent to 17.5 per cent of output without rioting.

That shades into self-abnegation, however, in Ireland’s failure to hold a public inquiry into the crash, even after prime minister Brian Cowen, golf buddy of Anglo Irish’s bosses, had stepped down.

Here in the UK, indignant reports into the failure of bankers are like the No 43 bus: miss one and you can be sure another will come along in a few minutes. Ireland’s small, interconnected elite is less inclined to let it all hang out. Voters north of Hadrian’s Wall should ponder the possible parallels in an independent Scotland.

Ouch!

Try this old recording of a Today Tonight programme on property developer Patrick Gallagher who went bust back in 1982. The bank is much smaller as are the sums of money, but the cavalier manner with other people’s money and people’s entrancement with property speculation is sadly familiar…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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