I welcome the publication last week of the two reports into the banking system. We will have the opportunity to debate them in the Senate later but there is so much to discuss and so much material in these reports, it will not be possible for us to deal with them in one debate and it will be an issue to which we will have to return in the coming days, weeks and months.
There is much talk in the Houses today about confidence in political leaders and so on. The most important issue of confidence in Ireland today is the confidence people have in their future in the country – the confidence citizens have that this country can genuinely turn itself, or be turned, around – and that there will be a future for their children. Yesterday we saw further reports on unemployment figures which show Ireland is now 3% above the EU average.
Notwithstanding Professor Honohan was not asked to look at Government policy, contained within his report is a devastating critique of Government policy in the period under review. I accept he dealt with banking management, the prudential system and the regulatory regime but there is a devastating critique of Government policy. The more one reads these reports, the more serious and shocking they become. They contain a devastating critique of economic policy, budgetary policy and macro-economic policy over the period in question. When historians come to write the history of the past 20 years, these reports will be central documents on which they will rely, in particular Professor Honohan’s report.
I was somewhat sceptical, as we in this House have become, in regard to whether the process proposed by the Government was the correct one. Professor Honohan should be congratulated on the clarity and depth of the analysis he gave. However, we now need clear terms of reference in order that the Houses of the Oireachtas and, through them, the people can be involved in a really rigorous, open and transparent examination and analysis of what has occurred and why this country and economy have arrived at this shocking state of affairs.