Sunday 17 December 2017

Martin calls on Noonan to withdraw bank claim

Finance minister Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke
Finance minister Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to withdraw his claim that bank shares fell "across the line" as a result of Fianna Fáil's decision to reintroduce its bill on mortgages.

Mr Martin said he agreed with his finance spokesperson Michael McGrath that it was the release of a trading report last month that had prompted the fall in banks' share prices.

On Wednesday, the minority Government suffered its first defeat in the Dáil when TDs voted through the Fianna Fáil private members' bill, which gives new powers to the Central Bank to tackle high variable interest rates.

It is envisaged that the new powers will become law by January.

But the passing of the bill was overshadowed by a row between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

After initially describing the bill as "unconstitutional", Mr Noonan later claimed that Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB shares had dropped when Mr McGrath reintroduced his bill.

Mr McGrath accused Mr Noonan of "playing fast and blind with the truth", pointing out that PTSB released an interim report during the same period.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Martin called on the minister to withdraw the claim.

"Michael McGrath is correct. The trading report is quite obviously the trigger for that particular decline in shares in terms of their residual mortgage book in the UK," Mr Martin said.

He added: "Strangely, there was no reference to an Attorney General's decision, which I found strange.

"Normally, when governments question opposition bills, if they're saying it's unconstitutional, they will say that the Attorney General has offered this opinion that it's unconstitutional."

Irish Independent

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