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McCreevy gets legal warning after refusal to answer bubble question

Charlie McCreevey

A Legal warning was given to former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy at the Banking Inquiry after he refused to answer when asked if he believed there had been a property bubble.

Chairman Ciaran Lynch suspended the public session of the inquiry for almost 20 minutes when Mr McCreevy refused five times to answer the question put to him by Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty.

The inquiry committee sought legal advice and after the meeting resumed Mr Lynch told Mr McCreevy that if he refused to answer a question, "which falls within your direction, you may be subject to criminal sanctions under section 75 of the Houses of the Oireachtas".

He also told him the committee could make a finding against him that he had refused to comply and put him on notice that he would have to return next week to face a broader line of questioning.


The conflict arose when Mr Doherty asked Mr McCreevy if he believed there had been a property bubble in the previous 15 years before the financial crisis.

Mr McCreevy insisted he would only answer for his time in office and there had been no property bubble during that time.

He said he made a vow not to comment on any aspect of public life when he left office in 2004 and he was not going to break it.

When the session resumed Mr McCreevy then agreed that figures indicated that house prices during that time had gone up to "an extraordinary degree", but he did not believe his policies as minister had helped create that bubble.

Asked by Mr Doherty if, with hindsight, he should have heeded the warnings from the Central Bank about excessive growth and overheating and should have been more cautious in taxation and spending policies Mr McCreevy said "no".


Mr McCreevy said when he was in government he was painted as a Scrooge in terms of spending, but after the crash he was depicted as a "Santa Claus".

He also argued that "the economy and public finances were in an exceptional healthy state when I ceased as Minister for Finance in September 2004".

Asked about Anglo Irish boss Sean FitzPatrick, Mr McCreevy said he had known Mr Fitzpatrick since 1973 and they had been classmates in UCD. He had run into him a few times socially, but never played golf with him.

Earlier the deputy head of the Department of Finance, Ann Nolan, said Ireland could possibly make a €2bn profit from Nama and the sale of bailed-out Bank of Ireland and AIB shares.

The long-term cost of the blanket Bank Guarantee would be associated with Anglo Irish bank, but "the country will probably get its money back on the 'living banks'," she added.