Time to jail reckless bankers - Lucinda Creighton urges in new policy
Bankers who recklessly lend money to people should face jail, Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton has said.
The leader of one of Ireland's newest political parties was at Leinster House to publish her party's plan on tackling white-collar crime.
Renua Ireland TD Billy Timmins said the Irish justice system does not take white-collar crime as seriously as so-called ordinary crime.
"If you steal an apple in Moore Street, odds are you will go through the process. But we know that many big criminals involved in company crime and fraud get away with it," Mr Timmins said.
The party has published a 10-point plan aimed at increasing action against white-collar criminals, including making reckless lending a criminal offence - as recommended by the Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.
"There is a really strong sense that notwithstanding the extraordinary collapse of the banking system and the massive destruction caused to the economy which has affected the lives of ordinary citizen, nothing has really changed," Ms Creighton said.
The former Fine Gael junior minister said the policy would bring real accountability to actions and failures to act in the business world.
"We will introduce legislation which imposes criminal liability on a senior manager of a banking institution, fund or insurance undertaking who knowingly puts the viability of the institution at risk," Ms Creighton said.
The other actions include:
• Criminal sanctions for company directors who conduct business recklessly, based on laws already in force in Australia.
• Curbing the use of limited company liability to escape punishment for breaking the law.
• Tightening provisions to ensure claiming ignorance of the law is not a defence.
• Reducing scope for sentence mitigation on grounds of previous good character or "good family".
• Improving training for all company directors.
• Facilitating whistleblowers - including giving them a percentage of taxpayers' money recouped from detecting wrong-doing.
• A special white-collar crime court with streamlined procedures and more training for judges and lawyers.
Asked generally about the new party, just launched in March, Ms Creighton said they are organised in all 40 constituencies nationwide in a very short space of time.
She conceded that she had said the party needed something like €1m to run a national election campaign but they had decided from day one not to take company donations.
"So the party in every constituency in the country is engaged in fundraising. It is amounts, big and small but mainly small, from individuals and not companies," she said.
Ms Creighton said by the end of next week 14 candidates will have been selected.
"I think that is excellent for what is a party only launched weeks ago," she added.
Wicklow TD Mr Timmins said the new party could not match the spending power of the big parties. He said unlike the big ones it got no taxpayer funding as this is decided at the start of each Dail term.
"But we have something special and that is the enthusiasm and commitment of our new members who want to change Irish politics for the better," Mr Timmins said.
A number of candidates attended the launch, including Cllr Patrick McKee who stood in the recent Carlow-Kilkenny by-election.