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O'Dea: It's taking too damn long to bring the bankers to justice

Cabinet ministers are "deeply frustrated and exasperated" at the long delay in bringing to justice, bankers "who brought this country to its knees", former minister Willie O'Dea has declared.

The poll-topping politician said the lack of banking prosecutions is the biggest cause of anger among the public.

"I have witnessed first-hand how exasperated and frustrated my former government colleagues are with the situation, but there is something I want to scream at the top of my voice: It's taking too damn long," he declared.

"Something must be done to assuage public fury -- and soon. After all, it is the ordinary public who are paying the piper for the bankers' misdeeds. Those whose unbridled greed has led to hundreds of thousands of broken lives, broken hopes and broken dreams continue to live high on the hog and apparently give two fingers to the law."

Speaking yesterday, Mr O'Dea said: "If I was still at the Cabinet table, I would be asking Brian Lenihan to ask the various investigators how those investigations are getting on, and then he should make that information public."

"The one item which has provoked most fury is the apparent immunity of those who are perceived to be responsible for bringing the country to its knees -- the bankers. To say the public are frustrated at the apparent inability of the punitive organs of the State to bring at least some of those people to account would be a pathetic understatement," he said.

He described the high-profile early-morning arrest of disgraced former Anglo Irish boss Sean FitzPatrick as a mere "gesture," which, as of yet, has yielded nothing.

Writing in today's Sunday Independent he also said that some of Anglo Irish Bank's

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officers involved in the purchasing of its shares could face imprisonment if charged and convicted, and he asked why this hadn't happened.

The Fianna Fail politician is voicing the opinion of an overwhelming majority of the public, according to the latest Sunday Independent Quantum Research poll, which found that 93 per cent of people feel the investigations into the banking crisis have been too slow. Asked whether they felt the gardai and regulatory authorities have been too slow in prosecuting some bankers, only seven per cent of those polled disagreed.

According to Quantum Research, the failure of the authorities to prosecute such people cemented in the public's mind the perception that there was one rule of law for the rich and another for the ordinary citizen.

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People pointed to America and the example that was made of disgraced former bankers such as Bernie Madoff and how swiftly and publicly such figures were brought to justice .

"Look at the amount of people who go to jail in this country for non-payment of fines, things like TV licences or electricity bills, the jails are full of them. But how many Sean FitzPatricks are inside? None," one respondent said.

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