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Central Bank (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Snippet Contents:

I too thank Deputy Pearse Doherty and Sinn Féin for proposing the Bill. I hope it receives support on all sides. It was five years ago last week that we stood here and had the infamous "Prom Night". We watched helplessly as billions of euro worth of promissory notes were turned into sovereign debt which was in turn placed on the shoulders of Irish citizens for decades to come. The game changer that we were promised evaporated. The burden is a direct result of the banking sector in the country being allowed and facilitated by the political establishment to act more or less with impunity. As citizens, we picked up the tab for the banking failures. The handling of the tracker mortgage scandal suggests that little has changed regarding how banks behave. Many lessons should have been learned from the catastrophic banking collapse but front and foremost among them is that these banks cannot be allowed to act with impunity and that the political establishment cannot turn the other cheek to the practices of the banking sector.
What the sector does has a direct impact not just on the economy but on society too. The horror stories of families who have lost their homes as a direct result of what is essentially fraudulent behaviour on the part of the banks in the tracker mortgages issue show first hand how society has been impacted. We have homeless families, families that have been forced to rely on State subsidies such as HAP and, tragically, families who have faced the trauma of suicide. This is all as a direct result of the behaviour of the banks. It seems ludicrous that, in 2018, the Opposition has to move a Bill to, in effect, make it illegal for the banks to lie to the Central Bank. That is the situation, however. Needless to say, the Social Democrats wholeheartedly support the Bill.
While there must be sanctions on the sector as a whole, it is also clear from the many banking scandals that there must be strict and enforceable sanctions and consequences for senior decision makers. The only way to have a culture of good behaviour is to challenge bad behaviour and reward good behaviour. In this country we have all too often failed to punish properly bad behaviour and the culture of impunity and a sense on the part of certain classes of people feel that they are above the law has pretty much become the norm. That attitude must be challenged.
I do not accept the narrative that the wholesale, widespread tracker mortgage scandal happened randomly. I do not accept the decisions of the institutions are a mere coincidence. I believe this was a strategic and orchestrated action by senior decision makers in the banking sector and those decision makers should be held accountable for their actions. I also believe that there was a terrible lack of oversight on the part of a range of different actors. At the same time, if it can be proved that a decision was deliberately detrimental to citizens and customers, it must be punished.
Where was the regulator in all of this? Even where cases were brought, the regulator found in favour of the banks. It has now been found that he was wrong. What about the accountants? Were the contingent liabilities recorded? If they were, why are there no consequences for these same firms that keep cropping up? The tracker mortgages were the least profitable mortgages and the banks were making decisions in the interests of their balance sheets and not their customers' interests.
The banks have repeatedly demonstrated that they will not act ethically when left to their own devices. For that reason, the Bill is most welcome. I look forward to its smooth and speedy passage through the legislative process.