Sunday 19 November 2017

Patrick Neary tees off as banking probe finalised

Former Financial Regulator Patrick Neary
Former Financial Regulator Patrick Neary
Patrick Neary
Pat Neary drives off from the first tee
Pat Neary

Nicola Anderson and Niall O'Connor

FORMER Financial Regulator Patrick Neary spent the bank holiday playing golf as TDs prepare to quiz him over the collapse of the banks.

The former watchdog – who received a €630,000 golden handshake after he was forced to retire in January 2009 – teed off yesterday at the Lisheen Springs Golf Club in Brittas, Co Dublin.

Mr Neary was the man who brought the term "light touch" to a whole new level – but it seems that where his own pocket is concerned, he keeps a rather tighter grip on the purse strings. The golf club prides itself on its keen membership rates, stating: 'Value for money is our key objective.'

It advertises annual rates of €1,080 for a seven-day membership or €495 for a five-day membership package, in addition to offering a 5pc discount off annual subscriptions if paid in full.

The tempting package costs less than other prestigious clubs.

Every day is now a 'bank holiday' for Mr Neary, who looked relaxed and refreshed.

Wearing a cosy black fleece hat, he was appropriately dressed for the gloomy grey skies.

A motion to establish an inquiry into the 2008 banking crisis is expected before the Oireachtas this week. Mr Neary will join former Taoiseach Brian Cowen in public hearings due next year as they try to explain their decisions culminating in the 2008 banking guarantee.

Government sources last night anticipated the inquiry could wind down by autumn 2015.

It's understood that the team will be made up of nine members, four of whom will be government TDs. Labour TD Ciaran Lynch has been selected as chairman.

Michael McGrath will be Fianna Fail's nominee, while Sinn Fein will nominate finance spokesman Pearse Doherty.

Independent TD Finian McGrath said the Technical Group was still choosing between Clare Daly, Stephen Donnelly and Richard Boyd Barrett, while Fine Gael will likely put forward Public Accounts Committee vice- chairman Kieran O'Donnell. Dara Murphy, Liam Towmey and Simon Harris are said to be interested.

It is believed that 48 staff will be hired, and members will be assured of more resources if necessary.

Moves to establish the inquiry were set in train following the conclusion of the first Anglo trial, which highlighted serious failings at the Regulator under Mr Neary's watch.

Judge Martin Nolan said he could not send Anglo directors Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer to prison, given that the Regulator gave the green light to the illegal share-buying scheme for which they were convicted.

Judge Nolan said: "I find it incredible that red lights did not go off somewhere in the Regulator's office."

Irish Independent

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