Analysis

Sunday 13 July 2014

Tapes prompt prospect of rewinding to 2011 for re-run of referendum

Lise Hand

Published 27/06/2013|04:00

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While the Taoiseach and Micheal Martin traded Anglo blows across the Dail chamber during Leaders' Questions, there was another quieter spot of parliamentary handbags unfolding among coalition colleagues.

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There was the usual bit of barracking going on, with a few of the hardy boys of Labour and Fine Gael unwilling to pass up an opportunity to stick a flurry of boots into Fianna Fail while their leader grilled Enda about the inadequacy of settling for a parliamentary inquiry.

But Fine Gael's resident banker Peter Mathews was unhappy with such irreverence being displayed over the tragic topic of broken banks.

He turned around from his Dail perch (which manages to simultaneously occupy both the floor level of the chamber and the moral high ground), and exhorted some of the Labour lads to go easy on the levity and that this was no place to get all political.

Labour whip Emmet Stagg promptly took umbrage, robustly informing Peter that he was in fact in a house of politics.

The pair were hopping mad, exchanging more than a few glares across the narrow divide. Perhaps Peter had pressing business outside the chamber, but shortly afterwards he did indeed depart temporarily.

Both Enda and Micheal were oblivious to the incipient rumble as they continued the squabble over how an inquiry into the banking fiasco should be set up.

Micheal wanted a tribunal in the style of the UK's Leveson inquiry in which all sorts of powerful poobahs were hauled over the coals.

"People are expecting that bankers will be held to account, given the revelations in the Irish Independent tapes," he reckoned.

The Taoiseach took the Fianna Fail leader on a quick trip down that unfortunate byway, Memory Lane.

"Deputy Martin had an opportunity to have an independent investigation into the banks back in 2010," he reminded Micheal.

"However, your government created a secret commission of investigation, the Nyberg commission, which produced no names and no accountability," he sniped. "I'm not interested in weak, secret investigations that produce nothing."

Which is why, perhaps, Enda was interestingly vague on the option of a re-run of the 2011 referendum that sought to increase the powers of an Oireachtas committee.

"I haven't given any definitive answer to that," he hedged.

That referendum was given the thumbs-down by the electorate last time round. But in the aftermath of the Anglo Tapes, the public mood may have darkened against bankers to the extent that they are prepared to do the unthinkable and hand over more power to politicians.

Who thought they would see the day?

Irish Independent

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