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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Poll re-run on cards as banks warned to keep all phone tapes

Colm Kelpie, Donal O'Donovan and Fionnan Sheahan

The Government is actively considering plans to hold a referendum again to give the Oireachtas extra powers of investigation in the wake of the Anglo Tapes.

Following the Irish Independent's revelations, the major banks have been warned to hold on to the internal recordings of their own telephone conversations as the tapes will be needed by a banking inquiry.

Ministers again discussed last night whether to hold a referendum to beef up the powers of the Oireachtas and allow TDs to make findings of fact against individuals.

The previous attempt to pass this referendum was defeated on the day of the Presidential election in October 2011.

Attorney General Maire Whelan set out her views on the various forms of inquiry that could be undertaken.

The Government is expected to make a decision on the matter next week.

To run the referendum in October with the vote on the abolition of the Seanad, the Coalition will have to pass legislation before the summer break.

"Realistically, if it was to happen this year, the decision would have to be taken almost immediately," a Government spokesman said.

Today, the Dail will pass new laws on the structure of Oireachtas inquiries – but with the existing powers.

Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB are being written to by Finance Minister Michael Noonan telling them to retain the tapes.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Anglo Tapes had been confiscated by the gardai using a warrant and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Kenny said there were tapes available in other banks and they were obliged by law to keep those recordings. He said Mr Noonan was sending a letter "reminding them of that responsibility".

The Taoiseach said there was information available within the Department of Finance – but not a series of tapes.

The files within the department will also be made available to the inquiry.

Mr Noonan said he assumed the State's other main banks recorded internal conversations in a similar fashion to scandal-hit Anglo Irish Bank.

He also said the special liquidators to IBRC were to investigate if the leak came from the bank or accountants KPMG, for whom the liquidators work.

AIB and PTSB have confirmed that so-called treasury conversations are recorded but Bank of Ireland has declined to comment.

The Central Bank said there was no requirement for it to record conversations.

"The question as to whether tapes exist in the other banks, I assume they do," Mr Noonan told the Dail. "This electronic data may be required by the Oireachtas inquiry when it's put in place."

He said he was deeply disturbed by the contents of the Anglo Tapes and the "arrogance" of senior executives.

Irish Independent

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