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Anton Savage: The ECB are just too smart to come over here for a show trial

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Mario Draghi, president of the ECB

Mario Draghi, president of the ECB

Mario Draghi.

Mario Draghi.

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Mario Draghi, president of the ECB

Simon Coveney has criticised the European Central Bank for refusing to attend the Banking Inquiry.

It's not surprising that a Cabinet minister would make such a criticism. It's less surprising that the ECB would make such a refusal. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell they would attend.

First, the inquiry takes place six years after the events in question. Second, it's perceived as politically incentivised to find fault outside our borders.

Third, it's going to be asking questions made difficult for the ECB by confidentiality and market sensitivity. Fourth, we know pretty much everything about the topic anyway (from analyses done by Honohan, Nyberg, and Regling & Watson).

And fifth, Patrick Honohan is attending the inquiry and is a member of the governing council of the European Central Bank - who therefore should be able to do a perfectly good job of answering any ECB-related questions.

Five good reasons there then.

But there's an even better reason - the Punch and Judy show that Oireachtas Committees have become.

In the last few years our parliament has begun to mimic the worst of 1950s American political show-trials, with a few politicians using a quasi-judicial setting to grandstand, thereby undermining the work of others.

In the 50s in the US, people invited to Congressional committees quickly learned a simple lesson - plead the fifth (refuse to answer to avoid self-incrimination).

That approach hampered the work the committees were undertaking.

That's what the behavior of some of our Oireachtas members has now created - a committee system where witnesses who have seen the sessions in action will decide two things - don't go, and if you have to go, curl up and protect yourself.

So Simon Coveney can "express disappointment" as much as he likes, but the failing in this instance lies not with Mario Draghi (right) or the ECB, who are behaving eminently sensibly.

The failing lies with those few who have turned what should be committees of inquiry dedicated to the public interest into show trials dedicated to their personal gain.

There's life Jim and it stinks

Scientists have found evidence of a gas on Mars that may indicate life (that's a pretty big 'may').

The gas, methane, is produced on earth from organisms, therefore its existence on Mars may indicate living things exist or existed there (it may indicate a huge amount of other stuff, too, so don't hold your breath).

What the scientists are not going into great detail about is where methane comes from.

What worse anti-climax could there be to all our dreams of space exploration and inter-stellar discovery than finding alien life thanks to flatulence?

What astronaut would want to go on that mission? You spend a lifetime travelling through space to walk up to an alien race, hold out a hand in friendship and say those eternal words: "Er, did you fart?" Leggings are just pants

Thank god for Montana. They've just put in law what we all knew in our hearts - leggings are not pants. They've outlined what is appropriate to wear in their State legislature, and one of the rules is leggings don't make the cut. As the Montana Legislature puts it "Leggings are not considered dress pants."

Thank you Montana. You hit the nail on the head. Leggings = Thick tights. Not pants.


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