Taoiseach blocks banking inquiry

The 26 County Taoiseach Brian Cowen is being accused of blocking a major inquiry into the banking system because “it’ll expose the close links to Fianna Fail”.

Last week, the new Governor of the Central Bank called for a full probe into the financial crisis in the 26 Counties.

In the Dublin parliament, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore accused Brian Cowen of blocking any inquiry in case it lands the blame on him when he was Minister for Finance - an allegation to Taoiseach denied.

Gilmore claimed that the Taoiseach did not want any inquiry on the crisis to go ahead due to what he termed as the “close connection” that exists between Fianna Fail, developers and bankers.

He said any inquiry would also expose the fact that the regulatory authorities in Ireland had not done their jobs.

Gilmore also said that the Taoiseach had “presided” over the crisis during his time as Minister for Finance and was afraid that “the track will lead to your door”.

“The Irish people are entitled to know what know what kind of carry-on was going on behind the scenes that resulted in the banking crisis,” he said.

“Political culpability is not a good enough reason to block the kind of inquiry the Governor of the Central Bank has called for,” Gilmore added.

The Taoiseach defended himself by saying that he had merely said that the Government would have to carefully consider the type of inquiry being proposed but cast doubt on the plan.

“From my point of view, the resources of the State are currently involved in ensuring banking stability and that we can deal with the economic and financial issues that arise.

“I am sure there will be economic historians and economists who will continue to talk about the failure of the regulatory system in this and other countries regarding the challenge faced by us.”

Earlier, Mr Gilmore said that this week last year Sean FitzPatrick had resigned as chairman of Anglo Irish Bank after it was revealed that he had been moving personal loans off the bank’s books to another institution and then back again, in order to conceal them.

“Since then we have had a high-profile Garda raid on the bank, and the House has been told that the Director of Corporate Enforcement is doing some kind of an investigation.

“However, no one has been called to book for what happened in the bank.’’ Since then, he said, Anglo Irish Bank had been nationalised. Some 4 billion euro of taxpayers’ money had been put into it, while another 7 billion euro had already been put into AIB and Bank of Ireland, with more expected.

“Between them it comes to 11,000 million euro of taxpayers’ money,’’ said Mr Gilmore.

“It is the largest bank robbery ever, except on this occasion it is the banks robbing the people.”

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