Tuesday 20 February 2018

Lenihan family likely to give written statement

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former finance minister Brian Lenihan
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former finance minister Brian Lenihan
John Downing

John Downing

The family of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan are likely to be allowed give a written statement to the Banking Inquiry, but not a personal testimony.

Members of Mr Lenihan's family confirmed they had sent a legal letter to the inquiry committee as it enters a crucial phase.

Mr Lenihan's aunt, Mary O'Rourke, yesterday said the inquiry without the late Finance Minister "would be like Hamlet without the Prince".

This was why she was seeking the right to participate and help in the proceedings. Ms O'Rourke said the family were not especially seeking to challenge expected evidence from former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, who will give direct evidence in the coming weeks.

Mr Cowen has already denied over-ruling the late Brian Lenihan on the night of the bank guarantee decision in September 2008.

Mr Lenihan, who died in June 2011, was Finance Minister on the night the Government undertook to guarantee bank deposits up to €100,000.

There have already been claims by Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan regarding the events of that night. It was suggested that Mr Lenihan was overruled as he favoured nationalising Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

Mr Lenihan was also in office in November 2010 when Ireland was forced to enter the bailout.


Now a parliamentary committee is examining the banking system collapse which ultimately cost taxpayers €64bn.

Ms O'Rourke and brother and former junior minister Conor Lenihan, have expressed their concerns that the late finance minister may have his reputation undermined at the inquiry where he cannot defend himself. They are seeking the right to rebut claims made against him and also the right to cross-examine witnesses where relevant to his work.

Committee chairman Ciaran Lynch said he could not comment in any way on the O'Rourke/Lenihan family legal letter to his committee. "As of now, I know nothing directly about that," he said.

It is, however, understood that evidence from the Lenihan family could initially be taken in writing.

Committee sources said the agenda had already been set for the coming phase of the inquiry, which involves some 50 witnesses and up to 100 personal statements on the issue.

Irish Independent

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