herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Banking crash 'was missed by the media'

Gerry O'Regan,former editor of the Irish Independent (left) and Michael Doorly, former financial director and now company secretary at Independent News & Media - two of the witnesses at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry at Leinster House
Gerry O'Regan,former editor of the Irish Independent (left) and Michael Doorly, former financial director and now company secretary at Independent News & Media - two of the witnesses at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry at Leinster House

The state of the banking sector was the 'Watergate' story which was missed by all of the Irish media, a former editor of the Irish Independent has told the Banking Inquiry.

Mr Gerry O'Regan said it was "not for the want of trying" that journalists had missed the story which was "hidden from the view of everybody".

At the time, the Central Bank, IMF and Regulator and various other influential people were saying matters were ok, he added.

Mr O'Regan, who was editor of the Irish Independent from 2005-2012, said in all his time editing the paper he had been given a free hand and never came under any pressure to take a particular line politically or commercially.

Asked by Deputy McGrath if there had been an "unhealthy dependence" on property advertising at the time, INM Company Secretary Mr Michael Doorly said he did not believe that.

Meanwhile, Ed Mulhall, former RTE head of news and current affairs, told the committee that in his view RTE had performed its public service well during the period but admitted they could have done better.

He said the most significant intervention was when Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan contacted Morning Ireland to confirm the country was entering a bailout programme.

He also recalled the late Brian Lenihan, who was Finance Minister at the time of the Bank Guarantee, calling in reaction to a Liveline programme.

Mr Lenihan had contacted the director general and then Mr Mulhall directly about the panic that might ensue with a run on the banks.

Contact

He said it was a proper and in no way inappropriate contact by the Minister. Mr Mulhall had explained it was not the station's role to assure the public.

Former Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy told the committee that journalists were less well-placed than others to make an accurate assessment in the run up to the property bust because they were reliant on reporting the views of specialists like the Government and the Central Bank or economists.

hnews@herald.ie

Promoted articles

Entertainment News