On Tuesday evening, the Seanad held a debate on banking. You can read what the Minister of State, Martin Mansergh said by clicking here. Following contributions from both government and opposition sides, I rose to speak…
I listened carefully to the speakers on the government side who started their speeches by telling us how they are satisfied or pleased that matters are starting to turn around and the position is changing. The phrase from the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, in the budget was that we were “turning the corner”. All these phrases are used. I waited to hear examples of concrete achievement.
The claim is that action is beginning to bear fruit but no example is ever given. The only instance I have heard repeated is what the Minister for Finance said on radio yesterday morning about the people who Richie Boucher met when he went to Europe last week being very happy with us. The people Mr. Boucher had dinner with in Europe, or wherever he was, appear to be happy, and the Minister for Finance said he was perplexed that everybody abroad seemed to be happy but nobody in Ireland is happy. That is because the people in Ireland are facing the brunt of what is occurring.
The Minister has spoken about finance ministers and other colleagues in European governments being supportive of what the Irish Government is doing. Forgive me if I am wrong but I do not think I have ever seen a minister in the European Union criticising a colleague from another country. What is this business about with people getting a pat on their back when they go abroad? They seem to think that is the approval rating needed. Of course, there is only one approval test and set of criteria by which we can meaningfully assess anything the Government is doing. That is the kind of delivery that some of the government speakers, when they come to their senses, would apply to the debate; it concerns when there will be real lending available to businesses and people in the Irish economy. There is no evidence that it has happened yet. I am sure if the Minister could find a morsel of evidence for it he would tell us about it all the time. There is no evidence.
I want to respond to some of the Minister of State’s comments. It is almost laughable for him to come to this House speaking about the “honest and full disclosure by the Government and its agencies of the appalling mess within our banks”. I cannot believe the term “honest and full disclosure by the Government”. I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I heard him saying that. What disclosure has occurred, whether honest or full?