Members of Banking Inquiry defend final report

It found the ECB used an "explicit threat" to cut emergency funding

Members of Banking Inquiry defend final report

The Banking Inquiry report is launched | Oireachtas screenshot

Members of the banking inquiry have been defending their final report saying it was the best they could do given time and other restrictions. 

It blames banks for poor lending practices, the Financial Regulator for failing to govern them properly, politicians for pursuing policies that fuelled a property bubble, and then the ECB for forcing the Irish taxpayer to take on the costs of saving the banks.

But some members of the inquiry have expressed their disappointment that they never got to hear from some key players, especially to do with the former Anglo Irish Bank. Both Joe Higgins and Pearse Doherty refused to sign off on the document, with Doherty saying it was a “disservice” to the public.

Labour Senator Susan O'Keeffe says they wanted to be sure never to put any court case in jeopardy.

“I would have been one of the people desperate to publish David Drumm’s statement because I felt at least it was a part of the debate.

“I really, really struggled with the fact that we didn’t (but) it was the right decision in the end,” she said.

The final report was published this afternoon, and notes an "explicit threat" from the ECB if Ireland tried to burn bondholders.

It says that a key failure was politicians, the Central Bank and Department of Finance accepting there would be a soft-landing in the property market.

The financial regulator is the subject of damning findings - that it did not use the powers available to it to keep a check on the banks.

Government tax policies resulted in massive spending commitments that were founded on unsustainable transaction based taxes.

It says the ECB forced Ireland into the Troika bailout, at the same time saying there would be no bailout if the Government tried to burn bondholders, and another explicit threat that emergency funding would be withdrawn if this happened.

The banks it says moved away from prudent lending, and were driven by market share and profits.

The regulator had all the powers to crack down on the banks, but adopted a more light-touch and non-intrusive system of regulation the report finds.

In a statement the Central Bank says for its part the changes recommended in the report have already been implemented or are in the process of being done.

Banking Inquiry chairman, Labour's Ciaran Lynch, says the policies of Fianna Fáil-led governments before the crash, certainly added to the crisis.

Committee members say they did the best job they could under the challenge of the time limits.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath says they only 'scratched the surface' in some areas.

Joe Higgins was a member of the Banking Inquiry Committee and he did not sign off on the final report.

But he instead published his own report.

He spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime about the findings, stating: "Never, ever again should such enormous economic power be given to a small group of individuals to control significant sectors and important sectors of society".

You can listen to his interview here:

Tánaiste Joan Burton said earlier that policy makers need to learn from the report to avoid history repeating itself.

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