Saturday 24 February 2018

Colm McCarthy: Bank probe is the least we deserve

Almost five years on, we're still awaiting a full inquiry into what went wrong

Archie Kane (right) with Bank of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher in background
Archie Kane (right) with Bank of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher in background
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

Legislation is due to be introduced shortly by minister Brendan Howlin designed to facilitate a parliamentary inquiry into the Irish banking crisis. It is almost five years since the collapse of the banking system was triggered at the end of September 2008, and it is clear from recent Central Bank pronouncements that the end is not yet in sight.

Banking crises are common occurrences around the world but the Irish variant has some distinguishing features. Every significant bank got into difficulties; all had to be rescued either by the Irish State or by their foreign owners; and the State itself lost its financial independence, forced from the market into reliance on emergency loans from the EU and IMF.

The resultant economic downturn has added 10 per cent to the unemployment rate with no signs of early recovery. In terms of fiscal cost to future generations of taxpayers, the Irish banking bust is one of the largest that has ever occurred anywhere in the world.

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