Monday 18 February 2019

Union backs bondholder inquiry

Unite leader Jimmy Kelly has joined calls to identify mystery bondholders behind Ireland's crushing national debt
Unite leader Jimmy Kelly has joined calls to identify mystery bondholders behind Ireland's crushing national debt

A senior university academic is heading up an independent investigation into the mystery bondholders behind Ireland's crushing national debt.

The probe, backed by leading trade union Unite as well as debt and justice campaigns, is expected to report preliminary findings by the end of next month.

A team of three researchers, led by Dr Sheila Killian, head of the department of accounting and finance at the University of Limerick, are hoping to uncover who is owed the massive banking debts taken on by Irish taxpayers.

Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of Unite, said while they expected some non-co-operation in the early stages, they would pursue every avenue to reveal the identities of those being paid out of the public purse.

"Three years after the Irish government bought a 'pig in a poke' proffered by senior bankers, all of whom are now gone with massive pay offs, we still do not know to whom we owe this debt," he said. "Everyone who is being forced to pay for the mistakes of a small elite will at least know who is being funded by their pay cuts, tax increases and austerity."

Two other researchers are yet to be appointed and will be financially supported by Unite, justice organisation Afri, and Debt and Development Coalition Ireland.

They will be seeking access to the books of the Central Bank, the Department of Finance, the bailed-out banks themselves and other European financial institutions.

Andy Storey, chairman of Afri and University College Dublin lecturer, said figures already released were "broad brush", ambiguous and sometimes contradictory, while speculation abounded about the role of regional German banks and other exposed institutions. He said: "Part of what we are trying to do is to sift through that fog of rumour and innuendo and try to actually ascertain the facts."

Mr Storey said they would be looking for whistleblowers, using freedom of information and parliamentary questions as well as any avenue open to them to determine the identity of the bondholders.

A final report is expected by September, and a senior solicitor has offered his services to the investigation free of charge, he added.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section