Saturday 24 February 2018

Kenny fails to back up claim bank guarantee file 'shredded'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left), former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former Finance Minister
Brian Lenihan
Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left), former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

No official file exists on the decision taken by the former Fianna Fail-led government on the night of the €440bn state bank guarantee -- the historic move that tied the banks' debts to the taxpayer.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny intriguingly claimed yesterday that the file may have been "shredded".

Despite making the disclosure, Mr Kenny was unable to back up this startling claim and no garda investigation has been initiated.

The bank guarantee was controversially approved by the cabinet over the phone in the middle of the night following meetings between then Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the late former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and banking chiefs.

Mr Kenny revealed that there was no actual file in the Department of the Taoiseach on the decision taken that fateful night in September 2008.

However, the Coalition hasn't initiated any investigation into the whereabouts of the file and can't say if former department secretary general Dermot McCarthy was ever even asked about the decision.

Mr Kenny said there was "no file in the Department of the Taoiseach" on the decision. He said the file may have been "either shredded or has been disposed of or dispatched of".

"(There is) no evidence of the discussion that took place," he said.

Later on, however, Mr Kenny's spokesman had no evidence to back up Mr Kenny's claim that the file had been shredded.

"He was hypothesising," the spokesman said.

"If there was (a file) we would have a lot of answers to a lot of questions we are asking."

Investigation

The spokesman said there was no suggestion senior civil servants were at fault in the non-existence of the file.

Remarkably, there was no actual investigation conducted by the Coalition on the existence of the file either.

"Whether there was or there wasn't (a file), there isn't now. I don't know what has happened in relation to finding a particular file," the spokesman said.

"Upon taking up office, there was an effort to find out what happened that night. There is no file in the Department of An Taoiseach in relation to the bank guarantee."

When questioned if Mr McCarthy or former Department of Finance secretary general Kevin Cardiff were asked about the decision when the Government took office, the spokesman said: "I don't know."

Mr McCarthy and Mr Cardiff have since moved on from their positions.

Mr McCarthy retired while Mr Cardiff took up a post at the European Court of Auditors.

The bank guarantee was approved by the cabinet via an incorporeal meeting, where ministers were rung at home from Government Buildings in the early hours of the morning.

Clarify

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said Mr Kenny needed to clarify his comments about the bank guarantee file being shredded.

"It ill behoves the Taoiseach to cast aspersions in this way on persons that could include serving and former civil servants, his predecessor as Taoiseach and former government ministers -- one of whom is deceased," he said.

Mr McGrath said Mr Kenny was clearly uncomfortable at the time he made the claim as he was being "pressed on his failure to articulate any coherent strategy on bank debt".

Irish Independent

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