Tim Pat Coogan: Poking through legacy of 'greed is good' creed, in ashes of Bank Inquiry
The Banking Inquiry saga and some related events have borne out the truth of Bernard Shaw's pronouncement that a Government Commission reminded him of a man going to the lavatory: "It sits. For a time nothing is heard. Then there is a loud report and ... the matter is dropped."
The Government was fully aware of its limitations when it set it up. Soon after taking office it held, and lost, a poorly fought referendum to change the Constitution so that Dáil committees could investigate scandals to some purpose, making recommendations as to fact, with a view to holding those responsible accountable for their actions.
One of the principal reasons for the referendum's failure, apart from the retarding effect of Fine Gael's legal elites, was the publication of a letter signed by eight former Attorneys General, stating that if the referendum succeeded it would interfere with a man's right to his good name and the independence of the judiciary. This intervention, combined with a general mistrust of politicians, because of the chaos they had brought on the country with the powers they already had, helped to sink the referendum .