Last night, Fine Gael used their Private Members Time in the Seanad to put forward a motion relating to banking in Ireland. Naturally, the Government side put forward their own amendment. Below is my contribution to the debate. Click here to view Labour’s proposals on the dealing with the banking crisis.
I am glad to have the opportunity to support the Fine Gael motion. I have noticed repeatedly on Private Members’ business and across the board that Senators on the Government side of the House frequently complain about the Opposition’s refusal to be positive and co-operative. Senator Boyle got particularly exercised in this regard this evening in his contribution. Senator Hanafin mentioned this too, but was somewhat less exercised on the issue.
I find it difficult to take the frustration of the Government side seriously because the Fine Gael motion is very reasonable. I cannot see how any reasonable person, including Members on the Government side, can argue with the motion. However, the Government side proposes to delete the Fine Gael motion and substitute its own for it. This goes to the heart of the issue of co-operation and Opposition politics. If Senators Boyle, Hanafin and others are serious about wanting co-operation, why do they wish to delete the Fine Gael motion and replace it with their own?
I can understand that some aspects of the Fine Gael motion might give some pause to the Government side of the House. It might find it difficult to agree to phraseology that calls on the Government to take more decisive action to restore the reputation of the Irish banking system. I understand too it might find it difficult to accept one or two other aspects of the motion, and if I was on that side of the House, I might want to amend or vary those aspects. However, I see no reason for the Government side to strike down the basic thrust of the Fine Gael motion.
The motion recognises that the reckless and incompetent management, regulation and oversight of the domestic Irish banking system has damaged domestic and international confidence, that the Irish economy cannot recover from the deepening economic depression without a functioning banking system that enjoys the trust of depositors and everybody else and the public perception that the resolution of the banking crisis is being manipulated in the interests of powerful and wealthy elites. Perhaps the Government spotted itself in that phrase, but it does not necessarily refer to the Government.