Business Banking Inquiry

Wednesday 18 July 2018

10 things we've found out through the Banking Inquiry (from the merely weird to the worrying)

From who over-ruled whom on the night of the bank guarantee to what not to do with Pat Rabbitte, Philip Ryan looks at what we've learnt

Colonel Muammar Gadaffi considered investing €1.5bn into Bank of Ireland at the height of the crisis
Colonel Muammar Gadaffi considered investing €1.5bn into Bank of Ireland at the height of the crisis
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

1 Bankers, regulators and politicians are all very sorry for the hurt and pain their decisions caused for the ordinary people of Ireland who have been forced to endure seven years of austerity-driven cut-throat budgets. But they are quick to point out it was not all their fault and they were only doing their best given the circumstances at the time.

2 Brian Cowen as Taoiseach overruled his then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan on the night of the Government's bank guarantee in 2008. The now- deceased Mr Lenihan favoured nationalising the banks, as did former secretary general at the Department of Finance Kevin Cardiff. But Cowen convinced the others to weigh in behind his guarantee.

3 A secret Department of Finance committee named the 'Johnny Logan Working Group' was tasked with finding another year's worth of State funding at the height of the crisis. "The reason for that is that you know the Johnny Logan song What's Another Year?', well, we had a thing called the Johnny Logan working group, which was to find from our own resources an extra year of funding," Kevin Cardiff told the inquiry.

4 Overthrown Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadaffi considered investing €1.5bn into Bank of Ireland at the height of the crisis. The former head of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) John Corrigan told the inquiry his officials met with the Libyan investment authority in Tripoli in late 2010 but a deal was never struck because they did not feel the Irish Government was in control of the financial crisis.

5 Pearse Doherty worked for a construction company that sponsored a Fianna Fail fundraising events before he became a Sinn Fein finance spokesman. Under questioning about Fianna Fail's infamous Galway Races Tent, Bertie Ahern revealed that Doherty worked for a company that sponsored a fundraiser at Listowel races.

6 Bertie would have continued as Taoiseach for a few more months but felt he had to step down because the damaging findings of the Mahon Tribunal were distracting from the Government's work.

7Bertie is very pleased with his autobiography, so much so he decided to quote from it verbatim during his opening statement to the inquiry. He would have got away with it too, if Pearse Doherty had not been such a big fan of the former Taoiseach's writings.

8 Don't back a Rabbitte into a corner. Pat Rabbitte came out with fangs showing when he was questioned by committee member Marc MacSharry (son of Ray) over whether he ever accepted hospitality in the form of transport from a developer. Rabbitte hit back with a story about a father and son builder he knew, jibing: "I notice sometimes, Senator, that talent skips a generation".

9 An independent investigation can be launched into an independent inquiry into the collapse of the banking system. Two weeks ago, the Oireachtas, which is running the Banking Inquiry, launched an investigation into claims of bad practice and conflicts of interest among the staff hired to investigate the banking crisis. The claims, which came from a whistleblower working for the inquiry, are now being investigated by a barrister but the inquiry itself is continuing.

10 Banking Inquiry members have exceptional bladder control but regular nicotine breaks are required. Members have been forced to pass notes to chairman Ciaran Lynch to request comfort breaks during mammoth all-day and late-night hearings. During these breaks a regular cohort dash for Leinster House's smoking area, chairman included.

Sunday Independent

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