Thursday 29 September 2016

Chris Donoghue: After bail-out drama, will inquiry irk critics?

Chris Donoghue

Published 23/11/2015 | 02:30

Deputy Ciaran Lynch (left), chairman of the Banking Inquiry, accompanied by Banking Inquiry investigators Pat McLoughlin and Peter Murray and, at back, press officer Ciaran Brennan at Leinster House yesterday.
Deputy Ciaran Lynch (left), chairman of the Banking Inquiry, accompanied by Banking Inquiry investigators Pat McLoughlin and Peter Murray and, at back, press officer Ciaran Brennan at Leinster House yesterday.

Kevin Cardiff, the man who ran the Department of Finance during the crisis, and Noel Dempsey, who famously denied that the Troika were on the way, were in the audience on Saturday to see Ireland's bankruptcy portrayed in 'Bailed Out!'

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Colin Murphy's play was read to an audience at St Michan's Church in Dublin by actors playing the parts of Brian Cowen, Brian Lenihan, Jean-Claude Trichet, Dempsey, Dermot Ahern, Patrick Honohan, Mary Hanafin and Michael Noonan.

The audience laughed as an actor portrayed Dempsey defending Cowen following the former Taoiseach's congested RTÉ interview and denying knowledge of bail-out negotiations that were well under way.

St Michan's is famous for the mummies in its vaults - but it's below ground in Leinster House at the Banking Inquiry where theatrics of another kind need critical review. Cardiff's evidence to the inquiry told us that Sean Fitzpatrick was looking for a guarantee as far back as April 2008.

Cowen maintained before the inquiry that it was not discussed at the Druids Glen golf and dinner outing with Fitzpatrick that year. So how does the inquiry, that is not allowed make findings against an individual, deliver a report worth the €5m price tag?

'Bailed Out!' also raised some questions for Fine Gael and Labour. The actor portraying Noonan delivered the brilliant one-liners of the real man in opposition. Later in power we see Noonan being blocked from burning bondholders by the ECB. It struck me that I'd already cast my vote on the events of 2010, but what about those of 2011 on? Where was the 'seismic shift' Labour had claimed? What did Angela Merkel's recognition of Ireland as a 'special case' lead to?

Enda Kenny had his own go at scriptwriting when he redrafted the rules and stacked the inquiry with a Coalition majority. A discredited final report now has the potential to backfire. Those vaults have been opened, just in time for a General Election.

Irish Independent

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