Monday 18 December 2017

Lessons we must learn on the law

'Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has established an inquiry into this legal debacle'
'Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has established an inquiry into this legal debacle'
Editorial

Editorial

Sadly, the majority reaction to the end of the 127-day trial of former Anglo-Irish bank chief Sean FitzPatrick was one of weariness. It wasn't only that this was the second trial - the first collapsed in 2015 - or that the evidence was complex or that there were extraordinary admissions on the part of the prosecuting Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) during the trial about shredded documents, poor investigation techniques and the treatment of witnesses. It was the fact that there seems to be a widely held belief that the chances of successful prosecutions in this area by the State are slim.

But there is a further dimension to the national exhaustion on this issue and that concerns the question of what happens next. Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has established an inquiry into this legal debacle, aspects of which were described by the presiding judge as "extraordinary" and which, in the words of the Taoiseach, leaves "the taxpayer... (taking) up all the tab, all the costs involved here".

But will anyone be held accountable? We know of the mistakes made by the chief investigator but this was wider than one individual. The Garda Siochana were involved. The present director of corporate enforcement was involved, as was his predecessor who got a sweetheart pension package. Prominent legal and accountancy firms had a role.

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