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Snippet Contents:

One might wonder of how many other situations in this State that sentence could be true, but the job before us is to act. The names of the bankers who did so much damage are well-known. It is a sign of how notorious these bankers are that they are household names. Their job was supposed to be to hold on to the money that people entrusted them with. Instead, many squandered that money through pure greed. Thousands of people signed up to a basic contract with their banks, including the right to a tracker mortgage. It was a plain, simple, black-and-white contract. Now we have learned that 30,000 of those contracts meant nothing because it did not suit the bank any longer. State-owned banks like Permanent TSB dragged their victims all the way to the steps of the Supreme Court before dropping their appeals. The arrogance did not end on that day, it did not end when the Central Bank started an examination and it still has not ended today after so many brave victims stood up to them publicly and called them out for the thieves they are. They still overcharge today, argue the toss over rates and fight tooth and nail against victims whose homes were stolen from them. They do this because they know there are no individual consequences for them. The bank might be fined but Johnny or Gilly Banker know they will not go to jail. They know that they are above the law.
Today, we send out a signal that we stand with the people, the victims of the tracker scandal or any other scandal which banks have created and walked away from, and say that today is the day that it will change. Sinn Féin is determined that the law will be changed, not just today in this small way in this legislation but in a wider way so that a crook in a suit is treated no differently from a crook in a tracksuit. Why is it up to us? There have been seven years with Fine Gael and various others and nothing has been done to hold individuals accountable for wrecking the country, with no new laws to tackle white-collar crime. Why not? Ideologically this is not a battle that Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil have the nerve for. Sinn Féin abolished the six-year rule and allowed thousands of victims of the tracker mortgage scandal to seek justice through the Financial Services Ombudsman. Sinn Féin had to take forward the legislation to allow for class action suits to allow those victims to come together and take on the bank. That Bill is progressing on Committee Stage despite Government opposition. We have to do this without the resources that Ministers have to bring forward legislation for what then Governor Patrick Honohan called for nearly three years ago, namely, to make it a crime to lie to or deliberately mislead the Central Bank.
I urge all parties to support this Bill, not only today but over the coming months, so that, for once and for all, everybody is equal before the law with no exceptions or get-out-of-jail cards for bankers or others in high offices.