The last week has been a particularly difficult one. The final figures for Anglo Irish Bank are simply horrendous. What is even worse – though it has received less attention – is the scale of our deficit. This problem is due to serious errors by previous administrations in managing our economy leading to an unsustainable tax structure and boom. We, the Green Party, are now in the unenviable position of having to help correct this.
The lack of prosecutions against those individuals who caused the banking crisis is a source of anger and frustration amongst members of the public. I share this sense of frustration. It is simply not tenable in a republic that there can be such a marked difference of emphasis in dealing with white collar and other crime. Many of you have asked, for example, how is it possible for a man to be arrested for stealing 14 euros worth of nappies while others live the high life.
We have to look afresh at how we tackle these issues. I fully appreciate the distinction that exists between government and the investigating authorities. Nevertheless, I have witnessed prompt and zealous measures taken in relation to gangland crime by the authorities.
I’m simply saying that a comparable sense of urgency needs to apply to these cases involving banking. This is why I have insisted that we set up a cabinet sub committee to consider all aspects of fraud and white collar criminality. We must ensure that we use all means possible to bring those guilty of fraud and financial irregularity to justice. I know you as a Green Party member want to see results. And I understand how this is a crunch issue for you.
Believe me, we will ensure that those guilty of wrongdoing must face the full rigours of the law.