Cowen to face inquiry questions in public?

You would have to wonder whether you could call the proposal for a bank inquiry an ‘inquiry’ at all. It certainly does not appear to have much in the way of grilling the people who caused the mess, or of dealing with the decisions post September 2008, all of which were the critical ones.

I made the point earlier to Senator Dan Boyle (who is said to have offered his resignation over the inquiry). I tweeted to him: “…forgive my cynicism then. Will I see TV pictures of our leaders for the past 12 years being held to account for their decisions?”

To which he replied:


Brian Cowen, at least, is a start. But Bertie Ahern, being the Taoiseach who oversaw the entire period would be another must see. And Messrs McCreevy (Finance), Cullen, Dempsey, Roche and Gormley (Environment) would be others. As I said to Mr Boyle, accountability behind closed doors is not accountability. Accountability must be seen to be done, a bit like justice. Getting a report at the end of a process is not enough.

But then accountability seems to be a rather novel concept to most of our politicians.

7 thoughts on “Cowen to face inquiry questions in public?”

  1. I’m reading Matt Cooper’s book at the minute and the deatils of some of McCreevy’s decisions regarding tax for the rich are quite astonishing. One of the taxes, ARV’s I think, allowed the rich to pay allmost nothing in income tax. Basically the banks forwarded huge loans to them, which diluted their earnings on paper and meant that only interest on the huge loans had to be paid. Well something like that. But since the builders and the rest of the cabal have come into financial difficulty, all these interest payments could not be met providing another hit on the banks as international credit markets seized after Lehmans.
    Ahern activelty promoted this with McCreevy among a whole range of other areas. It is an absolute farce that they do not have to stand up in front of us and explain themselves. Although I believe the bank interrogator appointed last week is supposed to be quite the enforcer, and I think Honohan will do a good job, a public enquiry is certainly needed.

    1. Cooper’s book is simply the best piece of explanatory writing produced by any Irish individual I’ve read.

      He’s a quality journalist. The book is fantasticly passionless and concisely written. If you’re reading it now have your post-it pad out and stick notes to every page, it’ll come in useful in future.

  2. I know, it’s like a who’s who of the corrupt and crooked in Ireland. Certainly I agree, it’s so concise and well written. Cooper is quality it has to be said, he’s weekly column is essential reading.

  3. Gavin,
    You write as if you at least are in a position to not only know that we were propelled into our current position by a small number of evil “people who caused the mess”, but to identify those evil people.

    Are you ?

    Secondly, you say that “the decisions post September 2008… were the critical ones”.

    I don’t agree that they were the only critical ones.

    You’re not alone, of course, in giving the impression that you don’t need the Inquiry to identify the culprits. It’s pretty well universal in the media. Everyone’s hero Matt Cooper (he’s good but not *that* good) has even decided that all that will be possible to be done to the media-selected culprits is to name and shame them. (Because due process will prevent anything else).

    Who’ll do that ? Why, the media, of course: better than any prosecutor, judge or jury. Much better fairy-stories, or “narratives” as the jargon now has it.

    Has no-one heard of the narrative fallacy ?

  4. @Fergus

    I would hazard that key decisions were made by political leaders and within the regulatory regime (or indeed key decisions were not made but could have been) that led to the credit and property bubbles. I think that is fair.

    Post September 2008, they were clearly not the the only critical ones, but I believe they were the critical ones.

    I believe we do need an inquiry, clearly. Just not one in the current format. All our current system seems capable of is “naming and shaming”. Anything above that is a bonus. I tend to keep my expectations low.

    I’m not quite sure what your’e getting at – I was dismissive of Colm McCarthy’s idea of a narrative inquiry, simply because DIRT was something similar – and led directly to no cultural change in the regulatory regime (indeed it got arguably worse subsequently).

    Regulatory capture seems to me to be one of the biggest issues, yet almost nowhere is it spoken of.

  5. Gavin

    That’s a good answer, and I am not going to rush my rejoinder (if I can find one).

    I don’t understand your second paragraph, though: you say no, then you say yes.

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