Monday 16 October 2017

President says people should be 'told all facts' on bank collapse

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

FOLLOWING the publication of the Anglo Tapes, President Micahel D Higgins has said that the Irish people should be told all the facts, but an inquiry into the collapse of the banking system is a matter for the Government.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent at the Irish Derby at the Curragh yesterday, Mr Higgins said: "I think in many cases the quicker we actually know all the facts about it all, and the quicker it is all faced in the most open way possible, the better it will be for everybody."

The President said his initial reaction to the tapes was how "unrepresentative" it was of what he knew to be "the best of Irishness".

He said: "Travelling around the country, looking at communities showing great resilience, coming out of terrible times of unemployment, and also people who are worried about the future, and the efforts they are making together to construct community initiatives – the enormous difference between that and what we heard, which I think is representative of a very small number of people."

At the same time, he said, "great damage has been done to this country", to the sense of trust at home, and to our reputation abroad, but he was sure that as people looked at Ireland they would see that the content of the tapes was "representative of a particular kind of moment in Ireland that I think has passed".

He added: "I think, quite frankly, insofar as you asked me about it, that it is very important that we face up to how this kind of culture emerged, the values or absence of values that it represented, and reflect on it and make sure that we move on from it so that every day there are people trading between Ireland and Britain, between Ireland and abroad, and they are working hard and they are doing so in sophisticated language."

Asked about an inquiry into the Anglo Tapes he insisted that: "It's a matter for the Government."

He said: "My work as President has been to give the best possible representation to this country abroad and at home and to encourage people to identify those who are making real effort."

Mr Higgins said the kind of remarks that were published were "so untypical of the best of Ireland", but he thought there were issues to be faced in a genuine reflection by people "in the corporate sector as well" to make sure that this was "as unrepresentative as I say it is".

He added: "But you have to face it, and you have to make sure that you are willing to look at the assumptions upon what this was based, and make sure that we put an end to it."

After speaking about how hard people were working, how committed they were to public service, and wanted transparency, he continued: "We must say very clearly how we condemn this, and we note that we now have work to do to make sure that we reveal its unrepresentativeness.

"I like to think that this is just an aberration in the modern history of Ireland and let us all hope that it is."

Irish Independent

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