Sunday 8 December 2019

Banking Inquiry, the next big flop

RELIEF: Sean FitzPatrick leaves the court a free man
RELIEF: Sean FitzPatrick leaves the court a free man
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

We're a fierce crowd for the Next Big Thing that will solve all our problems. And solving all our problems right now means finding someone to blame for all our problems. That will do us nicely. For a while we wanted to know Angela Kerins's pay. If we only knew that, we thought, we would be satisfied. But that didn't really do it for us.

Then we got excited at the prospect of the first bankers in the dock. Finally, a good old Anglo show trial. And it involved Seanie, a man, who, like Prince, Madonna and Miriam, has reached such levels of fame that he was known just by the one name. It turned out he hadn't done anything wrong in terms of the Maple 10 loans.

Indeed, we didn't even get the satisfaction of seeing Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer go down. Not really properly anyway, not in a way that satisfied any bloodlust.

Besides which, we had all lost interest in the Anglo trial long before there were any verdicts. It was all legal talk and details anyway. What we wanted was a few speedy crucifixions.

The long-awaited banking inquiry is now going to solve all our problems. The banking inquiry will be all things to all people. For Fine Gael it will be an opportunity to show that it's all Fianna Fail's fault. Because for Enda Kenny it is not enough that he is right, he has to keep pointing out that other people were wrong too.

For the rest of us it promises to be a great TV show trial in the classic vein of those US committee hearings you see in movies. They are promising a cast of thousands, all of whom will be compelled to come.

Pat Neary, the regulator who made the inquiry so urgent all of a sudden, will be compelled to be there, though whether he can be compelled to remember anything is another matter.

Brian Cowen, another popular face of blame, will be there. No one can be sure what he will remember either. Even the big consultancy firms – MerrillLynchGoldmanSachsPricewaterhouseCoopers – will be there.

It's all very tantalising indeed. And one hates to be a spoilsport, but the banking inquiry is going to be another big fat disappointment. Not only will be there no punishment meted out, there will be no blame apportioned. Indeed there won't even be any findings of fact made. And anyone who has been too strident on this issue in the past will apparently be precluded from being part of the sub committee. So no Shane Ross asking questions for example.

It will all be as pointless as an Anglo trial without Drummer. And before the inquiry even starts, this being Ireland, it will presumably be tied up in legal challenges for years.

But perhaps it will sate our need for bread and circuses for another little while. Until it too lets us down and we look to the Next Big Thing, the thing that will truly satisfy us.

Sunday Independent

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