Secret banking inquiry plan slammed
Secret banking inquiry plan slammed

A row has erupted in the Dublin coalition government after Fianna Fail argued that an inquiry into the crisis in Irish banks should be held partially in private to avoid controversial or embarrassing details emerging into the public domain.

There are growing calls for a public inquiry after the government provided 54 billion euro to the state’s main banks in return for the ‘distressed assets’ of Irish developers -- overvalued land, property and developments -- which continue to decline in value.

The banks accepted the assets as collateral for massive loans to a small coterie of developers, a number of whom are known to have political connections to Fianna Fail. If property values continue to decline, the ‘NAMA’ deal and other short-term bail-outs for the banking sector could ultimately cost the Irish taxpayer in excess of 30 billion euro.

Sinn Fein has described the bitterly opposed NAMA plan as ‘the crime of the century’.

Green Party leader John Gormley is meeting Fianna Fail leader and Taoiseach Brian Cowen later today in a bid to defuse a growing row over whether an inquiry into the banking crisis should take place in public or not. The party is also adamant that the Dublin parliament has to have a role in the inquiry.

In the past, Mr Cowen has that it would be a “very serious mistake to do anything that would “jeopardise the steps taken in the last 16 months to restore stability to the banking system”.

Opposition parties have demanded that any banking inquiry should be held in public.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said yesterday a full public inquiry into what happened was essential. Party colleague Pat Rabbitte who said today It that it would entirely undermine the value of an inquiry into the banking crisis if it were held in secret.

Fine Gael’s enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said that any inquiry would have to include the Taoiseach as its “star witness,” adding that Mr Cowen “has very serious questions to answer” about his former role as minister for finance.

Green Party chairman Dan Boyle reiterated his party’s belief that any inquiry should be open.

However, he refused to say whether the party believed Mr Cowen should be questioned by the inquiry team.

“Until we have terms of reference I’m not going to say what the order is or who can be questioned...obviously everyone who has been involved in this situation should be contributing to the process that has been agreed upon,” he said.

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