Wednesday 21 February 2018

Anglo tapes making debt deal more difficult - Gilmore

Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Anglo tapes are making the Government’s job in securing a deal on bank debt from Europe harder, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

Mr Gilmore also said - like Finance Minister Michael Noonan - he was unaware the tapes existed until they were revealed by the Irish Independent.


Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said he was “personally sickened” by the tapes, and said they show the need for a banking inquiry - claiming “the people of Ireland will want nothing less”.


He said there was no sense of the damage done to the country in the attitude of senior Anglo executives.


And Mr Gilmore, who is working on securing a deal on the EU budget in the final week of Ireland’s presidency, said the Anglo tapes make getting a deal on Irelands' debt burden “more difficult”.


He also said every member of the Government is angry at the details in the Anglo tapes.


Mr Gilmore was reacting to the latest tapes, which record Anglo Irish Bank boss David Drumm laughing about "abusing" the bank guarantee and warning his executives not to be caught abusing it


“What has come out in these tapes doesn’t make our job any easier, it makes it more difficult, yes of course it does,” Mr Gilmore said. “But we are going to continue to get the best possible outcome for the Irish taxpayer.


"Since the election of this Government in 2011, we have been dealing with the consequences of that bank guarantee, trying to clear up the mess, trying to renegotiate the terms of all of the different loan agreements that were made, the promissory note, we succeeded in renegotiating  that and getting it on a long term basis, liquidating the bank.


“We have continuing negotiations with the ECB and with our European Union partners.


“But I have to say, I am angry at what I have heard in those tapes and I believe every member of the Government is. It makes our work more difficult.”


He also said the tapes are “really shocking”.


“I mean the degree of arrogance, the degree of hubris, the degree of couldn’t care less about the taxpayer, about the Irish people that seemed to have been part and parcel of the culture of that bank.


“I never believed that bank should have been given a guarantee. I think that what we are seeing emerging in these tapes confirms that that position was right.


“The decision to provide a a guarantee to that bank, and with the consequences that has had for taxpayer’s money and for the taxpayer and for the country, was the wrong decision in 2008 and I think what we are seeing emerging from these tapes confirms that it was a wrong decision.”


Mr Gilmore again said the tapes underlined the need for a banking inquiry, and said Sinn Fein - who accused the Coalition of “foot-dragging” on the inquiry - could not walk away from its decision to vote for the guarantee in 2008.


Mr Howlin also said a banking inquiry could begin in the next Dail term, which starts in September.


A Department of Finance spokesman said the "general consensus" was that Government ministers were unaware that internal phone conversations between bankers are recorded.


He said Mr Noonan was well aware that exchanges between customers and staff members are recorded for data protection reasons - as is general practice - but he had no idea tapes such as these existed.


He said even if ministers had known about the tapes, which have been in garda possession for the last four years, they would have no authority to access them.


"The Department of Finance or a Government minister couldn't seek to have access to those tapes," he said.


"It's not like asking a parliamentary question. They are being kept as evidence. It's not the case that a minister can demand them."

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