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Sunday 28 May 2017

Banking crisis report will put Fianna Fail back in line of fire

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FIANNA Fail is bracing itself for further criticism when the report of the latest inquiry into the banking crisis is released.

The report by senior Finnish civil servant Peter Nyberg has been completed and has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the gardai and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

"Whatever criticisms it makes of Fianna Fail's tenure will have to be accepted and taken on the chin," Fianna Fail financial reform spokesman Michael McGrath said last night.

Although no one will be named in the report, it will focus on the lending by the country's six main banks that led to the banking crisis and the regulation failure by the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator.

The Department of Finance yesterday confirmed that Mr Nyberg had provided the completed report to Finance Minister Michael Noonan last month.

There is, as yet, no publication date for the report, but it is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

GUARANTEE

Mr Nyberg's terms of reference covered the period of the controversial state banking guarantee on September 29, 2008, but did not explicitly instruct him to inquire into it.

However, former Fianna Fail minister Willie O'Dea said yesterday that he and other ministers had been presented with a "fait accompli" on the night by then Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

"I was 140 miles away in Limerick. I got a call, there was no debate. I would have welcomed discussion at Cabinet, but I was told this had to be done before the markets opened," he told the 'Sunday Independent'.

But a source close to Mr Lenihan said it was widely known there had been an "incorporeal cabinet meeting" on the night -- where ministers were called up on the phone to take part without being physically present.

The source also said no minister had complained about it at the time, and that there was a strong awareness in the Cabinet about the banking crisis.

Mr McGrath said it was very easy to criticise the bank guarantee in hindsight.

Mr O'Dea could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

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