Prime Time Investigates: The Bankers

Congratulations to Oonagh Smyth and the team at Prime Time Investigates for producing an excellent documentary on what went wrong with the Irish banks. The programme, which has insightful contributions from a number of people including Governor Honohan, is now available online here. The programme is likely to increase the pressure on the government to have an official inquiry.

Honohan Interview on RTE

Governor Honohan gave an extensive interview on last night’s The Week in Politics on RTE. A podcast of the interview is available here. I would note that the reaction from the government to Governor Honohan’s comments on an inquiry into the causes of the banking crisis has been disappointing, though perhaps predictable. The Irish Times reported:

In the Dáil yesterday, Brian Cowen said he had read what Dr Honohan had to say.

“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.

“However, I would have to carefully consider such an inquiry before giving any commitment. As we know from the Abbeylara case, there are limitations on Oireachtas committees being able to inquire into questions of fact.’’

The “resources of the state” argument is weak. Essentially, this is the can’t-chew-gum-and-walk theory of government.  The “economic historians and economists” comment also has the suggestion that these are matters for academics to worry about while practical men like the Taoiseach worry about the present and the future (going forward). Still, I suspect that the government may end up having to yield to pressure for an inquiry and the foot-dragging will just mean that they will get no credit for having done so.