Business Banking Inquiry

Saturday 20 January 2018

An unhelpful stand-off which the DPP will win

David Drumm
David Drumm
John Downing

John Downing

It takes minimal effort to dismiss 10 months' work by seven TDs and four senators and insist they cannot tell us something new about the 2008 bank collapse. But let's back up and recall the economic horrors it dislodged to afflict so many of our lives for the last seven years.

This unhelpful stand-off between the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Oireachtas inquiry into the bank crisis plays to the naysayers who deride the committee of inquiry.

The current unfortunate row is all about David Drumm, boss of Anglo Irish Bank, which has cost us taxpayers almost €30bn. He has been in the USA since soon after its collapse in 2008, and is resisting the DPP's efforts to extradite him to face charges related to that collapse.

On Tuesday, the DPP gonged efforts by the inquiry committee to hear video evidence from Mr Drumm from the USA. On Wednesday, the DPP further gonged a committee plan to publish the written statement Mr Drumm had filed to them.

The issue dragged into yesterday, with frequent lawyer consultations. The committee, headed by Cork Labour TD Ciarán Lynch - who has put heart and soul into it - very reasonably wants to maximise input from the banks in general, and Anglo Irish Bank in particular.

The DPP very reasonably wants official investigations to continue and prosecutions to go ahead without the risk of potentially prejudicial commentary from elsewhere - least of all from an official forum at Leinster House which, by definition, has huge official endorsement.

So we reached this stand-off between the 'Oireachtas Inquiry Into The Banking Crisis' and the DPP. For three days now it has gone over and back.

The DPP lawyers have understandably stood by their insistence on not cross-cutting legal cases. The politicians' view has been less understood. It is about their insistence that their inquiry, on behalf of the people who elected them, must deliver some value beyond other official inquiries.

There is a strong and understandable suggestion that the DPP never wanted the Oireachtas inquiry to ever get involved in probing Anglo Irish Bank. There were, and are, many pending investigations heading towards the law courts. Just yesterday, a jury returned verdicts in one Anglo-related case.

Similarly, the politicians know any inquiry - which, at best, dabbles with the Anglo story at the margins - is pointless. Anglo Irish Bank accounted for about half the Irish bank disaster and its knock-on effects were huge.

So, can we call this DPP versus Oireachtas committee a stand-off? Well, with great annoyance, this writer must venture that the DPP wins this one.

Despite that, it is still far too easy to dismiss this committee's work.


Irish Independent

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