Thursday 25 May 2017

The €31bn promissory notes for Anglo and others were not a 'blank cheque', TD's appeal is told

Independent TD Joan Collins is taking an appeal against the High Court's rejection of her challenge over the issuing of the promissory notes. Pic: Courtpix
Independent TD Joan Collins is taking an appeal against the High Court's rejection of her challenge over the issuing of the promissory notes. Pic: Courtpix

Tim Healy

A law under which the Minister for Finance issued €31bn promissory notes for Anglo Irish Bank and other financial institutions did not amount to a "blank cheque", the State has told the Supreme Court.

Independent TD Joan Collins is taking an appeal against the High Court's rejection of her challenge over the issuing of the promissory notes.

The State contends the minister was empowered to issue the notes under the 2008 Credit Institutions (Financial Stabilisation) Act, which was enacted by the Oireachtas with the aim of averting a banking collapse.

Ms Collins maintains the notes were issued without a Dáil vote in breach of constitutional provisions dealing with appropriation of public money.

The case relates to promissory notes issued for Anglo, Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) and Educational Building Society (EBS). Anglo and INBS were later nationalised.

In submissions, Michael McDowell, SC for the State, disputed two core arguments advanced by Ms Collins.

He disagreed a statutory power to charge the central fund is unconstitutional unless that charge is pre-quantified or there is an outer limit on it. He also rejected arguments that it is unconstitutional for the minister to charge a public fund under statute unless the imposition of the charge has been considered in advance by the Dáil.

During exchanges with Mr McDowell, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he did not see evidence the Dáil considered this expenditure via estimates.

There may be an Act saying there is an emergency and "you have got to do what it takes", the issue for the court is whether that is constitutional, the judge said. He also queried whether the State's position amounted to saying: "You discuss the groceries, but not the purchase of the house".

The court will resume hearing the appeal on a date to be confirmed.

Irish Independent

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