Thursday 20 October 2016

Drumm's bid to give evidence via video-link in US opens political rift


BANK inquiry members will decide early next week on whether or not to allow former Anglo Irish Bank boss David Drumm to testify by video-link from the USA.

Politicians are deeply divided on the issue, with one Fianna Fail TD and Lucinda Creighton of Reunua Ireland against it while Sinn Fein has not made up its mind. The Taoiseach intervened and said Mr Drumm should come back to testify, but two Fine Gael TDs and committee members took opposing views for and against.

Former Anglo Irish CEO Drumm has been in the US since the bank collapsed in autumn 2008, costing taxpayers some €30bn. He has refused to return to Ireland to answer questions and the Irish authorities are seeking his extradition.

But Mr Drumm is in compliance with the committee because he filed a written statement and he has now offered to give evidence via video link as early as next Wednesday.

The inquiry, headed by Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, is now taking legal advice and consulting with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The committee's own lawyers are now studying the issues and consultation with the DPP is being undertaken.


Results of these exercises are expected to be available on Monday ahead of a decisive meeting of the seven TDs and four senators scheduled for Tuesday.

It is understood the committee's lawyers will assess whether the video evidence is legally permissible, whether it can be used to cross-question other witnesses, and whether it would be usable in writing the committee's final report.

The DPP will be asked about compliance with the law and conflicts with ongoing cases.

Already, the DPP has effectively prevented some witnesses from appearing but allowed one witness go ahead. Comparisons will be made with the appearance of former ECB governor, Jean-Claude Trichet, at a special committee hearing on April 30 last at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, which passed the legal tests.

Fianna Fail TD and committee member Michael McGrath said it would be "a grave error" to take video evidence. Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty said he would wait for lawyers' and DPP's advice before deciding.

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton said it disrespected the Oireachtas.

For Fine Gael, Eoghan Murphy opposed it but John-Paul Phelan said it should go ahead.

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