Monday 27 March 2017

Kenny pledge on banking inquiry after 'Yes' vote

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny signalled yesterday that a banking inquiry will be set up quickly if the public votes to give the necessary powers to TDs and senators.

He and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore appealed yesterday for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum to give powers to Oireachtas committees to summon witnesses and to make clear findings about the conduct of individuals.

However, the lawyer who represented the family of John Carthy -- the man whose death in controversial circumstances by the Garda's Emergency Response Unit (ERU) in Abbeylara in 2000 led to a failed Dail inquiry -- said there were "no guarantees" that politicians would act impartially in an Oireachtas-led banking probe.

"There are a number of political decisions that certain politicians would like to defend," said Peter Mullan, joint managing partner of leading law firm Garrett Sheehan.

Mr Mullan, who has called for a 'No' vote, said that placing investigative discretion in the hands of politicians who, unlike judges, are not required by the Constitution to be impartial, was "a recipe for repetition of the mistakes of the past".

"Can we be absolutely certain that they (politicians) are going to be impartial?" asked Mr Mullan at an Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) event.

Amendment

Mr Kenny insisted that the amendment, if passed, would allow the banking crisis, which had caused suffering among people all around the country, to be investigated.

He also signalled that such an inquiry would include the state banking guarantee on September 29, 2008, which tied the country's fate to the banks.

"I want to find out what happened on the night in question when the decision surrounding banks was made that affects every single person in the country," said Mr Kenny.

The referendum, if passed, will give the power to politicians to determine the "balance" between the rights of a person against whom politicians will be able to make findings of fact and the public interest in seeing an inquiry conducted.

The wording prompted eight former holders of the office of Attorney General to make an unprecedented intervention in a referendum debate to "strongly oppose" government plans to boost politicians' powers to hold public inquiries.

The former chief legal officers complained that the inquiries amendment "seriously weakens" the rights of individual citizens.

But speaking in Merrion Square in Dublin yesterday, Mr Kenny dismissed the warning from former Attorney General and justice minister Michael McDowell that a 'Yes' vote would give too much power to politicians.

Irish Independent

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