Fingers' legal shield shows why inquiry is a silent farce
Michael Fingleton was in top form when he entered the Banking Inquiry at 9.30am on Wednesday. Positively pukka. He paused, smiled to the cameras and strode confidently into Leinster House. He did not quite dance a jig, but he looked like a man arriving for a board meeting of compliant Irish Nationwide directors rather than a banker about to meet his Waterloo.
Wednesday was no Waterloo for one of the biggest hate figures of the banking crisis. Fingleton emerged bruised, but not wounded. He had spotted the gaping chinks in the armour of the flawed inquiry, exploited them to the full and left the battlefield at lunchtime. He turned the proceedings into a silent farce.
Contrition was not part of Fingleton's armoury. He was not sorry for anything he had done. Instead, he played the legal card ad nauseam. It worked. He was unable to answer many of the inquiry members' questions for legal reasons. He did not come armed with lawyers. He did not need them. Even when there were no court cases pending around the issue raised, the inquiry's rules came to his rescue. There were no-go areas everywhere. Chairman Ciaran Lynch's interventions have released many banking witnesses under pressure from interrogators. The inquiry's rules played into Fingleton's hands.
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