Leaders' Questions

The revelations in the Irish Independent this week of recordings between senior Anglo Irish Bank executives has angered, sickened and shocked people across the country. The conversations recorded illustrate a banking culture that was reckless, oblivious to the damage it was causing people, devoid of any sense of responsibility to anyone other than interests of self-preservation, and dismissive of authority. The bank was populated by people who hold the Governor of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator in contempt. The culture lacked any moral compass. People are furious about this.

Without doubt, the collapse of the financial and banking system was probably the worst crisis to hit the country since the Second World War. The impact of the collapse has been enormous on the people. Therefore, a comprehensive, independent inquiry into the collapse of the financial and banking system is needed. Such an inquiry would deal with the reasons behind the collapse and also the decisions taken in response to the crisis by bankers, the Governor of the Central Bank, regulators and the Government.

A parliamentary inquiry along the lines proposed in the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 has been suggested as the correct and appropriate response to the crisis. I ask the Taoiseach to reflect on that suggestion and on whether such an inquiry would be strong enough or independent enough to meet the gravity and scale of the inquiry required. A parliamentary inquiry cannot hold non-public officeholders to account, nor can it make findings of fact adverse to the good name of any person who is not a Member of this House or who cannot be held accountable to this House. The people on these tapes cannot be held to account by a Dáil committee, an Oireachtas hearing or parliamentary inquiry. That is a fundamental drawback and flaw in what is being proposed.

The Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 is before the House. This legislation was designed to reform the existing Tribunals of Inquiry Acts in order to make tribunals less costly and lengthy and more efficient. I put it to the Taoiseach that such a tribunal of inquiry, chaired by a retired international judge, if necessary, or a judge of good repute, fully broadcast to the public, with the full powers of a tribunal of inquiry along the lines of the Leveson inquiry which borrowed from the Irish Law Reform Commission's report which led to the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005, would represent a better response in terms of having accountability. It would have the capacity to make adverse findings against individuals and satisfy the public requirement for the full truth to come out. I do not believe a parliamentary inquiry at this stage, given the revelations, will actually meet what is required.

I noted the Deputy's words, "reckless", "oblivious", "devoid of responsibility", "dismissive of authority" and "no moral compass". I note that he only mentioned the word "truth" once. We need to get at the truth because while it is easy to be shocked and absolutely angry about the revelations in what I understand are very extensive tapes, we should remember who the victims are in this case. The victims are the tens of thousands of families, ordinary people around the country, who became victims of the axis of collusion between Anglo Irish Bank and Fianna Fáil and bankers in general in order to inflate the property business. They bought their houses with inflated mortgages and at inflated prices and found when the crash happened that they had been left devoid of their business and income and mortgaged to the hilt for the next generation. That is what we need to find out. There have been inquiries held in secret such as the Nyberg inquiry which happened after the bank guarantee, about which nobody here knew anything until it was completed. There was no political accountability. I remind Deputy Micheál Martin who the guardians were at the time of what is contained in the Constitution. It was the elected Government which operated with the Central Bank and the regulator and with light touch regulation. It was the Government that sat down, time after time, with the bankers on "Hail fellow, well met" occasions.

Has the Taoiseach reached conclusions already?

It was the Government that allowed that culture to function. It is no wonder that Deputy Micheál Martin suggests having another inquiry in secret that could drift on for years. We had 14 years of the Moriarty and Mahon tribunals and nobody went to court-----

We know how the Taoiseach dealt with the Moriarty tribunal.

Stay quiet, please.

Charges have been laid against a number of individuals and a criminal trial is due to commence next year. A referendum on specific inquiries was rejected by the people. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is processing legislation through the Oireachtas. It is imperative to establish the terms of reference for such a committee and, in so far as it can be challenged, that it deal with political accountability in order to find out how this decision was made and how the Government was duped into making it by what we hear in the emerging revelations. I remind Deputy Micheál Martin that we need to find out about that culture, what went on and who was involved. Let us get at the truth. I ask for his co-operation in putting through the legislation dealing with inquiries-----

It cannot make findings of fact against anybody.

I suggest the Seanad could reschedule its agenda to have this finished by the end of this Dáil session. Let us put that inquiry in place. I suggest the people who were in government with Deputy Micheál Martin during the years write down their recollections of what happened in the lead-up to the bank guarantee, the discussions and conversations that took place, and the decisions made or not made. Why is it that in this day and age there is no record in the Department of the Taoiseach of the conversations about this matter between bankers and those who were in government, when tens of thousands of people have watched their families emigrating because of what these boys did in the banks, aided and abetted by the culture of a Government that was arrogant and contemptuous?

How will the Taoiseach find out what they did?

The Taoiseach continued to pay them-----

Stay quiet, please. This is Leaders' Questions.

It stated, "If you think the housing bubble is going to burst, then go and commit suicide." I remind Deputy Micheál Martin that we need to focus on what happened here; that we need to find out the truth. We will start that process by having a parliamentary inquiry with a specific set of terms of reference to examine what happened before the guarantee was introduced.

(Interruptions).

That is where the damage was done. There was an infusion into that culture of a system that allowed this to happen that has consigned the next generation to paying for the behaviour of people involved in this circle, some of which has been revealed on the national airwaves in the past two days.

The Taoiseach's response confirms why it would be impossible to have a non-partisan independent inquiry conducted by the Oireachtas. The use of the word "collusion" and his various other remarks all confirm how incapable the Taoiseach and those in his party will be of conducting an impartial inquiry. However, that is not the point. It would undoubtedly be partisan, as per the Taoiseach's comments, and it would not have the teeth to make adverse findings against people recorded in conversations that have shocked the nation. The least of the Taoiseach's troubles will be former members of the Government in coming before any inquiry. He should acknowledge that no member of the Government will refuse to go before any inquiry, be it an Oireachtas or any other type of inquiry. His real difficulty in respect of a parliamentary inquiry will be getting the likes of the people on the tapes or people like the former director of Anglo Irish Bank to participate and in the inquiry having the capacity to make an adverse finding about his behaviour, if so deserved. The bottom line is that as a result of the Abbeylara judgment, a parliamentary inquiry cannot hold such people to account. It will be very restrictive in terms of who it can hold to account. That might suit certain people - it might even suit the Taoiseach - to have the focus on one dimension, not on the fundamental banking issue.

I offer this suggestion in good faith. The Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 is before the House. It results from proposals made by the Irish Law Reform Commission and was debated in the House before the general election. It is due to be taken on Report Stage. It proposes radical changes in how tribunals of inquiry are conducted in order to make them less costly, of shorter duration-----

A question, please, Deputy.

-----and similar in nature to the Leveson inquiry in the United Kingdom. We all saw how effective it was in holding to account people who were not public officeholders, as well as officeholders. It was very effective.

Did the Deputy hear me? I asked him to put a question because he is way over time.

It was in a position to make very good recommendations on how to make changes and improvements for the future. I suggest to the Taoiseach and the Government, in a spirit of co-operation, that the Bill represents a far better framework for conducting an inquiry into the banking sector collapse than the proposed parliamentary inquiry.

Quite simply, it does not have the teeth or wherewithal to hold people to account and make adverse findings.

Yes, but I assume a parliamentary inquiry would have the moral authority to call former politicians of influence and who were in office to give their recollections and accounts of what happened in the lead-in to the bank guarantee.

We said that. That is no problem.

I assume our predecessors in government who served with the Deputy in high office would have the opportunity and a willingness to come to a parliamentary inquiry to explain why this was allowed to happen.

Is that the purpose of the whole thing?

It was the cause of it. That is why we are in the mess we are in.

What about the rest of the players?

Call in the FÁS crowd.

Can Members refrain from making comments?

Why did a Government appoint someone to head up a report group that separated the Central Bank from regulators and introduce light touch regulation in the first place? Can the Deputy explain why all of these occasions were taking place between bankers and high members of the Government and say what was discussed at all of these things?

What was the Opposition doing?

This is what the culture has led to where the decision was made.

They have reached conclusions already.

Stay quiet, please.

The tapes to which we have listened and heard on the national airwaves were recorded after the bank guarantee.

They cannot be held to account by a parliamentary inquiry.

Will Members stop trying to shout down the Taoiseach and listen to the answer?

We had the Nyberg inquiry which was held in private after the bank guarantee.

Stop playing politics.

What about a public inquiry?

We need to have a public parliamentary inquiry with a specific set of terms of reference to find out the truth in so far as we can.

That is what I want - a tribunal of inquiry.

I suppose the Taoiseach will let Deputy Peter Mathews chair it for the Deputy.

They cannot make findings against anybody.

Will Deputy Róisín Shortall, please, refrain from commenting?

The people want to know that justice will be done.

A parliamentary inquiry cannot do it.

Will Deputy Micheál Martin also refrain?

There will be a criminal trial with a judge and jury and that takes its own course.

The Taoiseach is the judge and jury.

The Government extended the period of office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for the preparation of his report.

That was done in public, was it?

The Garda has done its job and that has all been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. I understand books of evidence are being prepared. That process takes its own independent course.

In the Dáil today a Minister prejudiced the outcome of the trial.

Who are you protecting, James?

We must find out in the House who were the masters at the time and who was supposed to be in charge of the country. It was the Government. We do not have a scrap of evidence about who visited whom, what was said, why decisions were not recorded, whether a decision was taken not to record any of this and why was it that this culture erupted.

That can all be got in a public inquiry.

Deputy Micheál Martin was part of that environment. I am not suggesting he was involved directly in any of it-----

(Interruptions).

-----but he was a member of the Government and the people are entitled to know why the Government had incorporeal meetings at 3 a.m. They are entitled to know about the political environment in which all of these agents operated.

The Taoiseach backed the bank guarantee.

The Taoiseach wants a political inquiry. We get all that.

Why do we not have it here?

Timmy, you know you are responsible.

The banks were agents of the Government and the issue was to keep the property bubble booming, keep prices up and keep people getting mortgages they could not pay back for very many years.

(Interruptions).

The whole lot went over the edge and here we are.

The Taoiseach spent too long in Europe. He has started to lose touch with the people again.

Evidence is now coming out on the airwaves of the comments, attitude, arrogance and condescension towards the people who were treated as pawns in a game.

That is the first time the Taoiseach has referred to them.

We need to find out the truth. When the legislation goes through, we will start that process in a parliamentary forum.

I ask Deputy Michael McGrath to behave himself.

It is hard to listen to rubbish.

I will call Deputy Gerry Adams and expect him to have silence as he asks his question. I expect silence from the Taoiseach, or rather for the Taoiseach when he is answering.

It would be better than what we have been listening to.

(Interruptions).

I have three main points to make about the Anglo Irish Bank tapes. First, it is five years since this shameful episode and not one banker has served one day of a prison sentence for his or her role in bankrupting the State. Ordinary citizens know that if they do not pay their television licence fee or the new taxes the Government is introducing, they will face prosecution. Second, it is clear from this morning's tapes that Mr. David Drumm and others in Anglo Irish bank were meeting senior Government Ministers. We do not need an inquiry to find that out. Deputy Micheál Martin and his Front Bench and others who were in government at the time could tell us who those Ministers were.

Does the Taoiseach know who they are? If so, will he name them?

You are not so great on detail yourself, Gerry.

Third, despite representations from Sinn Féin, these banking elites were rewarded by the Government. Of the top 50 executives, 22 were kept in place and some of them were given €175,000 a year. Tá a fhios ag an Taoiseach gur cuma le fear na mbróg cá leagann sé a chos. Tá aithne ag an Taoiseach ar an seanfhocal sin. Mr. Drumm who featured in the tapes was given a bonus of nearly €700,000. The Fianna Fáil Government of the day allowed this to happen, but the Taoiseach's Government has continued to protect these bankers and their high paid jobs. Why is there a delay in bringing prosecutions? Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to seek a report on the matter?

The Bill before the House, the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011, which is on Committee Stage, is extensive and complex. It deals with the Honohan, Nyberg, Regling and Watson, Moriarty and Mahon tribunal reports. The Government has published the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill which, once enacted, will provide the framework for a parliamentary inquiry system. The Deputy is aware that the people rejected in a referendum the question they were asked on the holding of inquiries.

The issue of who met who is one that politicians and former politicians should have no problem in addressing when they attend the parliamentary inquiry. It is imperative in the public interest that these matters be teased out and identified and that members of past Governments who were involved in any of the decisions related to this issue be able to attend to give their recollections and accounts, as should the individuals with whom they were associated. We are in a process where there is a trial to be held in the courts which are completely and utterly independent of anything I might say.

The Minister for Health jeopardised that recently. Is that criminally negligent?

Does Deputy Gerry Adams want the Minister for Justice and Equality to identify the Ministers involved?

I want him to give us an explanation as to why there is such a delay five years on.

I have set out some of the issues which have had to be dealt with by the Government in inheriting this mess, including the Central Bank legislation.

He was jailing the bankers before the election.

He sent the squad cars one week before the election.

Investigations are being carried out by the Central Bank and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement into matters at Anglo Irish Bank. They should take their course. We put a referendum on inquiries to the people and it was rejected. Legislation on inquiries is going through the Houses. In the meantime, we have had to deal with the unholy mess at European level in terms of interest rate reductions, the promissory notes and the extension of loan maturities to recover as much as we can for the taxpayer.

Believe me, Deputy Adams, I would be the first to say that what the people want is to see justice done. This has been a very complex and technical process, which is why we now have tapes emerging of what apparently are very extensive hours of taping to which I have not, obviously, had access. In the public's interest, we must have a parliamentary inquiry at which those personalities and the persons involved will attend to give their evidence to let us to get at the truth of the circumstances and environment which led to that culture which culminated in a bank guarantee and which was reflected in the condescension, arrogance and dismissiveness in the extracts from tapes played on the national airwaves.

What if they refuse to attend?

I asked if the Taoiseach knew which Ministers met the bankers but he did not answer the question.

Ask Deputy Micheál Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin could stand up now and make this clear to us. He is bound to know. Fianna Fáil knows who met these bankers. Let Fianna Fáil make it clear.

Let us have a truth commission and we will see who comes out best.

Allow Deputy Adams to ask his supplementary question without interruption.

There is very little confidence at the level of citizenship. The Oireachtas must be separate from the Judiciary and the Garda Síochána. The Minister for Justice and Equality is able to come in with title tattle and give us detail. Why can the Taoiseach not ask him to supply us with a report on Garda investigations into these matters? I am astounded the Minister for Finance said he did not know about the existence of the tapes.

The Criminal Assets Bureau.

If he did not know, why did he not know? Where is the Criminal Assets Bureau? Why are we not chasing these people who have defrauded the State and put tens of thousands of our young people across the globe and hundreds of thousands on the dole queues? This Government has proven once again that there are two laws. There is a law for the ordinary citizen. If I go into Dunnes Stores and steal to feed my family-----

Or Northern Rock.

-----I will end up before the courts. If bankers deliberately defraud the State, boast about it, laugh about it and boast about their meetings with Ministers, it will be okay. The sickening thing is that they were right. They said it would be nationalised, that they would be made civil servants and that they would get five years out of it. They got their bonuses. With respect, the buck stops with the Taoiseach. What will the Government do about this? If the tapes were not released, we would not be having this discussion. What will the Taoiseach do about it?

The buck stops with the Government and I am going after them. I do not have the authority or the mandate to adjudicate in a court of law-----

-----on whether persons have broken the law and should be charged and sentenced. Clearly, the people demand justice and the process of a criminal trial is under way. When the Department of Finance became aware of the kind of questionable behaviour in Anglo Irish Bank, the Garda Síochána, as the appropriate authority, was informed immediately. Under statute law, the Garda Síochána is the responsible body for dealing with criminal investigations in the State. I understand the tapes mentioned were part of the material supplied to the Garda Síochána over four years ago as part of the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank when it was made aware of the activity and behaviour that led to an investigation. Neither the Department of Finance nor the Government had access to the tapes, extracts of which I have heard played on the airwaves. The Government wants to see the matter sorted out and the truth known. I do not know what Ministers from previous Governments met with these influential bankers. We have had evidence of some of them.

Ask Deputy Micheál Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin knows from his personal ministry whether he ever met with any of them and I am not suggesting he did.

Plenty of innuendo.

Other people in the Government of which Deputy Micheál Martin was a member certainly did meet them and remained in their company for some time, whether at social occasions or whatever. I have no evidence of bankers coming to meet Ministers in the Department of the Taoiseach. At a number of occasions where meetings took place with previous taoisigh about this matter, no decisions were recorded. We cannot find any and if I had them I would leave them out here for everyone to see so that we could start the process. When we get a parliamentary banking inquiry, will any of those politicians refuse to attend and give the accounts of whether they met with the bankers and what was discussed-----

The bankers certainly will.

-----what decisions were taken and why it was that this culture came to a point where it was a continuous stream of pressure on people to take out mortgages to buy properties at ever inflated prices to keep builders and friends of the banks and the Government on a path for endless prosperity?

The Taoiseach kept them in employment until February. They were paid salaries of €175,000. He wrote the cheque every year.

Deputy Pearse Doherty should settle down.

Deputy Pearse Doherty's party wrote the biggest cheque with the bank guarantee.

I do not take from Deputy Adams the question of repayment and banks. The Deputy knows well that what we must do is put a process in train where answerability and the truth will come out. I do not take for granted the ranting of Deputy Pearse Doherty behind Deputy Adams.

When he was in opposition, the Taoiseach never opened his mouth against the profiteering that was taking place in the housing market.

Deputy Joe Higgins should show respect for his leader, Deputy Mattie McGrath, whom I have called.

Plenty of Members in government got cheap loans.

The public will not be fooled any longer. I compliment the Irish Independent on raising the scandalous and disgraceful events in respect of revelations about Anglo Irish Bank and the massive public deception members of senior management perpetrated upon the Irish people from September 2008 until this day and for generations to come. The BBC and the whole world is discussing what is going on in Ireland. Describing it as causing shock, nausea and teeth-grinding anger is putting it mildly indeed. The Taoiseach said he understands the rage and upset of the Irish people and that he can appreciate the anger out there. I very much wonder, after his reply to the last number of questions.

The Taoiseach also said he wants to make sure the promised new legislation to hold a banking inquiry will be sufficiently comprehensive. That says a lot. A spokesperson for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is sponsoring the inquiries Bill, said that under its terms Oireachtas inquiries would not be empowered to make findings of individual culpability. The committee will only be able to inquire into the facts surrounding the banking collapse. Is this what the Taoiseach means by sufficiently comprehensive? Why can the authorities not refer to the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act? There are plenty of articles in it for people who act dishonestly or set out to mislead. Why the cover-up and the delay? We must have individual culpability and we must disregard the nonsensical pleadings of senior management that they were not party to any strategy to mislead the Central Bank when we have it in their own words that they set upon a reckless and deliberate deception that has cost this country and its people dear. The dogs in the street know that. The Tánaiste says he had no idea the tapes existed of senior figures discussing the bank rescue fund and the subsequent bank guarantee. How credible is this? We all know conversations with banking institutions are recorded. Are we to seriously believe that five years into the farce, not one person in government thought to ask whether there was a record of conversations in this crucial period?

The Minister for Finance is sitting beside the Taoiseach. When he took up the job, he must have had discussions with senior management of the bailed out banks. Was he lied to, along with his predecessors and previous Ministers? What answers did he get and did he ask the questions? If not, why not? Was the Minister for Justice and Equality informed the tapes existed? He seems to be informed of every other triviality so I am sure he was informed of this.

Does the Taoiseach agree with the chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, Deputy Charles Flanagan, that the Oireachtas is not the appropriate forum for the banking inquiry? We need a short sharp commission of inquiry with no politicians involved, hand-in-hand with a robust criminal investigation that is fully resourced and efficient and assisted by police forces from abroad if necessary. Will the Taoiseach agree to take this course of action on behalf of the public so many years later in light of the election promises he made?

I think Deputy Mattie McGrath was a member of the Fianna Fáil Party when all of this went on. I take it he was very supportive of what happened then.

So was Deputy Finian McGrath.

If that is the best the Taoiseach can do, it is a sad day. We need leadership.

The tapes mentioned here were supplied to the Garda Síochána over four years ago as part of its investigation into matters at Anglo Irish Bank. Those investigations have led to a number of criminal charges being brought against individuals. As the Garda is the body responsible for criminal investigations in the State under statute-----

The Taoiseach should not take credit for those investigations. They were started four years ago.

-----it was informed of this type of behaviour. That is the reason those tapes went directly into Garda possession from Anglo Irish Bank under warrant. The Deputy talks about a cover-up. My God, the fact is that following those investigations criminal charges have been preferred against a number of individuals. That process is in train.

I believe that the legislation currently going through the Houses will provide a process for a parliamentary inquiry which can lead to the truth. We will start that process. We want to find out the truth about this. The people demand it and they are entitled to have it-----

And the Taoiseach promised it.

-----given that they have been crucified economically, and into the next generation, because of what happened. We see the condescending way individuals treated this as a matter of fun and games. We need to find out about the entire process leading to that culture and environment of hail-fellow-well-met, we are all part of this process, keep it rolling, keep providing those high mortgages, keep prices inflated and look after the builders, developers and bankers. We know very little about that and the legislation dealing with parliamentary inquiries will start that process. I would like to see it under way early in the autumn. I hope we can define terms of reference with a specific remit that can, in the public's interest, have accountability and truth brought to this matter to the greatest extent possible. The criminal law will take its own course in the courts.

The Taoiseach is not answering any questions. Did the Minister for Justice and Equality know about the tapes? I welcome the Taoiseach back from his globetrotting six month EU Presidency and comhghairdeas ar an obair. He is back to the real world now and it is time he took some responsibility for the inaction of his Government on all the promises it made. The individuals in Anglo Irish Bank are only second-rate guys. We need to know how many more scoundrels are lurking in the shady vaults of Anglo Irish Bank and, indeed, the other banks, including Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB.

Every legislative measure brought to this House has given a veto to the banks. With regard to the mortgage crisis, the Government is setting targets but the banks are just dangling people on a string. It is the same with the personal insolvency legislation. On every item, the banks have not been tackled head-on but have been given a veto on everything. Who or what is the Taoiseach hiding? He promised so much with disdain, as did the Tánaiste, Deputy Gilmore. Indeed, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, said there would not be one more red cent for Anglo Irish Bank. Does he remember that? Does the Government think the people are complete idiots?

The Taoiseach promised the people no more cuts to welfare or savage attacks on the most needy in society, one of which he went back on today. This Government went to the people for a mandate and said it needed people's votes to get us out of this mess. In the Anglo Irish Bank charade, the bank went to the Central Bank and said it needed its money to get it out of that position. It got the money from the last Government, of which I was a member. I have never shied away from that. I voted for it.

Does the Deputy have a question?

I was also duped. However, the Taoiseach knows that both he and his Minister for Finance have done nothing about it. Did the Minister ask the questions? If not, why not? Did the Minister for Justice and Equality know? If he did not know, why not, when he is able to know about trivialities? Both the Government and the banks have deceived the people. Both have broken promises. There has been no accountability on either side. Does the Taoiseach agree that it is high time there was such accountability? Will he set up a criminal inquiry and a robust investigation? There is no point in bringing it to the Oireachtas. While we have powers of compellability, it will not be effective. It will be just another smokescreen and the people will not wait for that. We cannot wait and time has already passed. Will the Taoiseach do what he was elected to do? The mandate he got was to sort out this mess, deal with it and provide honesty and truthfulness for the people.

I agree with the Deputy's last comment about honesty and truth. It has been a privilege to have been leader of a Government which has dealt with the Presidency of the European Union for the last six months.

Well done. Now it is back to the real world.

This morning the file on Horizon 2020 was agreed. Yesterday, the file on CO2 emissions was agreed. The Minister for Finance will be working hard tomorrow and tomorrow night on the question of bank resolution and bank recovery towards banking union, which is all part of this. We hope that the discussions currently under way with the Tánaiste in respect of the multiannual financial framework, MFF, can lead to a conclusion. If the Deputy thinks that is globetrotting, he is entitled to his opinion.

I had the doubtful privilege of calling into Anglo Irish Bank with Deputy Bruton, when he was the party's spokesman on finance, a couple of weeks after the guarantee went through. We met all of the principals in the bank's building on St. Stephen's Green. We were given a wonderful presentation by people who were very well remunerated in their positions and received very large bonuses. As has transpired, all of that presentation was a tissue of fabrication and untruths. The questions we asked on that occasion, from the Opposition benches, were very realistic in the context of the pressures people were under and the stories, rumours and allegations that were flying around about that bank. They were all utterly denied. I make that point for the politicians who are interested in what happened here.

The Opposition was meeting with them as well.

We are interested in finding out facts and the truth. We will bring the legislation through the Dáil and the Seanad, we will set up the parliamentary inquiry and define the terms of reference for that, and we will move forward on getting accountability and the truth in the interest of the people. As I said, next year is a different story in the context of the charges being brought against certain individuals. They will be processed through the courts system.

That concludes Leaders' Questions.

Did the Minister for Justice and Equality know about the tapes?

Did the Deputy know?