independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Taoiseach puts pressure on Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern to appear at banking inquiry

Inquiry due to start in second half of next year

Taoiseach Enda Kenny believes former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern will show no ‘reluctance’ about giving evidence at the banking inquiry next year. Picture: DAVID CONACHY
Taoiseach Enda Kenny believes former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern will show no ‘reluctance’ about giving evidence at the banking inquiry next year. Picture: DAVID CONACHY

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is confident that his predecessors will agree to give evidence at the much-anticipated banking inquiry.

Mr Kenny has heaped pressure on former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern, saying that he believes the pair will show no "reluctance" about being quizzed over the banking collapse.

The inquiry itself is due to begin in the latter half of next year, however, the exact form of the investigation has yet to be agreed.

Mr Kenny said he believes former holders of his office, such as Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, will comply with a request to give evidence.

"I don't think there will be any reluctance on (sic) any of my predecessors in this office to give hearings at the banking inquiry," Mr Kenny said.

Mr Cowen was the Taoiseach who presided over the controversial bank guarantee in September 2008. Mr Ahern resigned from office just six months previously.

The guarantee meant the State covered hundreds of millions of euro worth of liabilities at several of the country's financial institutions.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny insisted that the banking inquiry must not "interfere" with ongoing court cases involving a number of former bank executives.

INTERFERE

He highlighted the Dirt inquiry, which investigated allegations of tax evasion in the banking sector, as an example of an investigation that could not infringe on court cases.

"Remember, whatever form the banking inquiry takes, it can't interfere with the course of justice where there are cases being taken before the courts. So that's a matter that we have to prepare for very carefully in whatever form the banking inquiry takes," Mr Kenny said.

"I've had this before with the DIRT inquiry, where actually there was a five or six month lead-in in preparation for the people who served on the DIRT inquiry, not to infringe or impact upon elements of court cases that were being taken that were under way," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny refused to say which Oireachtas Committee he would prefer to see conduct the banking inquiry.

There has been significant debate in relation to whether the inquiry would be headed by the Public Accounts Committee instead of the Finance Committee.

The chairpersons of both committees have expressed a desire to conduct the investigation.

Asked which body he would prefer to conduct the inquiry, Mr Kenny said it was a matter for the Oireachtas Committee of Procedure and Privileges to decide.

"The Cabinet approved that . . . an inquiry should take place," Mr Kenny said. "It's then a matter for the Committee of Procedure and Privileges in the Oireachtas to do its business in that matter."

Irish Independent

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