Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Former taoisigh 'to face committee'

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is expected to be hauled before an Oireachtas committee looking into the banking collapse

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has predicted former taoisigh will willingly participate in a parliamentary inquiry into the banking collapse.

With Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen expected to be hauled before an Oireachtas committee during what could be a lengthy inquiry, the Taoiseach insisted the probe would not interfere with ongoing court proceedings.

"I don't think there will be any reluctance on any of my predecessors in this office to give hearings at the banking inquiry," Mr Kenny said.

"Remember, whatever form the banking inquiry takes, it can't interfere with the course of justice where there are cases being taken before the courts.

"So that's a matter that we have to prepare for very carefully in whatever form the banking inquiry takes."

The probe will look into the controversial September 2008 bank guarantee and the events leading up to it.

It was that September when the then Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition government brought in the 440 billion-euro guarantee.

The Committee of Procedure and Privileges, which will help set up the inquiry, will decide on which group of politicians is to convene the hearings.

This could fall to the Oireachtas Finance Committee or Public Accounts Committee.

"It's then a matter for the Committee of Procedure and Privileges in the Oireachtas to do its business in that matter, and wouldn't, or don't, or won't, interfere in that," Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach confirmed plans for a banking inquiry in September.

This followed the leaking of tapes to media that exposed conversations between former Anglo Irish Bank chiefs during its dying days.

Some of those recordings, known as the Anglo Tapes, were examined by gardai and the Central Bank.

The recordings indicated how senior figures planned to seek an initial seven billion euro bailout.

They suggested that the pot of money was enough to worry the regulator into acting but small enough to make sure it would not be allowed to collapse.

One recording outlined how bosses were ordered by former chief executive David Drumm, now based in the United States, to go to the Central Bank with ''arms swinging'' to demand ''moolah''.

Another revealed that head of treasury John Bowe claimed that regulators were ''effectively egging us on - for Irish banks to help each other''.

The executives featured in the previously released tapes have denied any wrongdoing.

It had been expected that a Government-backed banking inquiry would not take place until other investigations involving Anglo senior officials are complete.

The fraud trials of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick, former finance director Willie McAteer and former leader of the bank's business in Ireland Pat Whelan are due to begin in January.

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