Tough laws must be used with care
IT cannot have been an easy decision for President McAleese to sign the new banking bill into law. The Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill gives what many regard as unprecedented powers to the Minister for Finance to restructure and recapitalise the banks.
The President was right to call a meeting of the Council of State, whose members include the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General. We can only draw our own conclusions about the Council's views on the Bill from her decision to sign it, rather than refer it to the Supreme Court for a test of its constitutionality.
A referral would have caused the Government severe practical problems in the refinancing of AIB. The expected injection of €4.5bn will give the State almost total ownership of AIB. Under existing law, that would require a meeting of shareholders. That would certainly provide unwelcome publicity and, with nothing left to lose, shareholders might even have voted against.