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Snippet Contents:

I welcome Deputy Doherty's Bill. I also recognise the great work my colleague, Deputy McGrath, has done as finance spokesperson but also on the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach with my colleagues in the Dáil.
At the heart of the issue is the thread of lies over the past ten years. We have had a decade of lies from banks from when they initially had what they referred to as a liquidity crisis, which turned out to be a solvency crisis. The banks lied at every turn to Government, officials, and the Central Bank, and that has been repeated over and over again. Both the Honohan and Nyberg reports referred to accountability and a degree of responsibility. While we have restructured the Central Bank in terms of the split between the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank and empowered staff in a greater way, we still have the same cultural issues in banks. While there might not be the same solvency issues as was the case previously, the State took control of the banks at a huge loss to the citizens of this country. The flip side of that has been State-owned banks robbing people of their homes, as Deputy Doherty said. Thousands of people have been harassed and have suffered serious mental health difficulties as a result of the conduct of officials and senior members of banks. One could ask what the outcome has been for them. It has probably been bonuses and share options in the banks. Where is the accountability from the State looking back at the thread of lies we have seen in the past decade?
It is shameful that the Oireachtas has allowed this to occur. We seem to have a contradictory State policy. While we have words of sympathy from the Government and Ministers, at the same time there is a clear policy, whether in regard to NAMA or the pillar banks, to extract each value added element out of the banks. At one level we are talking about potential value for privatisation and sales while the flip side of that is the Government expressing sympathy for the people who have lost their homes, illegally, and who have been taken off tracker mortgages, illegally. There was a clear decision among senior members of the banks to do that en masse. As Deputy McGrath said, we must put an accountability framework in place.
One could ask what has changed from what was highlighted in the various reports, for example, the soft touch approach that was mentioned in the Nyberg report. The banks have not had solvency issues because of the European regulatory framework, but there has been a soft touch from the Central Bank in addressing the banks. That goes for the Governor and all the senior members of the Central Bank. They have allowed the banks to operate as they wish and they have taken a soft touch, slow, snail-like pace in terms of flipping the balance in favour of vulnerable people with mortgages who in many cases have had their homes taken from them. That is a terrible state of affairs when one looks at the thread of lies we have seen in recent years.
The Nyberg report referred to the development of herding and groupthink which led to widespread risk. It said there was a willingness indirectly to let other banks dictate their actions. When one looks at what happened here, it is evident that we have had a cultural phenomenon of most banks driving customers from their tracker mortgages and illegally taking them off mortgages with little or no accountability.