The recordings to which the Deputy has referred are a matter of the most serious concern in the context of the background of the bank guarantee against which they were made. As I said last week in commenting on the affair, the content of the tapes has been very negative for Ireland’s standing internationally and has resulted in extremely unfavourable press coverage abroad. Here at home, public anger, disgust and dismay at the tone and content of the transcripts is, understandably, almost palpable. I, too, am appalled at what I have read and heard.
The question of any abuse of the bank guarantee scheme in relation to deposit-taking by Anglo Irish Bank referred to by the Deputy is currently being examined by the Central Bank. The Bank is liaising with the Gardai on the matter and is examining whether or not any breaches of regulatory requirements may have occurred arising from the information contained in the transcripts. As the Deputy will appreciate therefore, I am not in a position to comment more specifically on this issue at this time.
The revelations of the past week or so bring to the fore the need for a banking inquiry as soon as possible. Of course, this will be a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas themselves to determine. As I said recently in responding to a Parliamentary Question on the matter, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform indicated that he supported the objective of holding a legally robust, parliamentary banking inquiry when he announced last month the publication of his Department’s ‘Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013’. Indeed, Minister Howlin has since – in the wake of the publication of the transcripts - underlined the need for such an inquiry. While the primary purpose of the Bill is to create a legislative framework for Oireachtas inquiries generally, it would be of direct practical assistance in facilitating a banking inquiry in accordance with a decision of the Houses of the Oireachtas in this regard.