‘A Bystander In A Car Crash’

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[Former Secretary General of the Department of Finance, and current member of the European Court of Auditors, Kevin Cardiff]

This morning, RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show discussed further the sentencing of two former Anglo Irish Bank executives Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan.

On the show was Dearbhail McDonald, associate and legal editor at the Irish Independent, Finbarr McCauley, Professor of European Criminal Justice at UCD and Pat Leahy, political editor of the Sunday Business Post.

During their discussion, Ms McDonald brought up something Kevin Cardiff said during cross examination in the absence of the jury.

Dearbhail McDonald: “You know what, there wasn’t much politics in the Anglo trial but there was a little sliver and it was very, very revealing. And that was when Kevin Cardiff, who’s a former Secretary General of the Department of Finance was brought in briefly and we were very, very excited because we thought, at least we’re going to get an insight into the Government’s thinking at the time and we didn’t.
He was there for less than 22 minutes. But under cross examination, in the absence of the jury, he was asked about a statement he had made. At an earlier stage, before the trial, he was one of a number of witnesses who gave evidence at a deposition and he was cross examined by Michael O’Higgins, senior counsel, who was representing Seán FitzPatrick who, as we know, was acquitted on all counts. And he was asked, you know: ‘Well what was your role?’. And he confirmed that the Government felt, certainly in respect of the attempts to unwind Seán Quinn’s stake in Anglo, that they were bystanders in a car crash.
And I think my heart sank, you know, at that point in time. Now we didn’t because we can’t legally report what happened in the depositions but he did reveal that much. You know. And I remember thinking ‘oh my god, well if this is going to be the height of it’, you know, in an inquiry, where they’re kind of saying ‘you know, well look, it wasn’t us, you know, there was nothing really that we could have done’.

And I wonder, like I mean I, earlier I was thinking, just reflecting on the Anglo trial. I think the saddest thing about it is is that that public are so tired, they’re so overburdened and perhaps they don’t really care. And what Pat [Leahy] has talked about, about the corrosiveness of public trust, you know, I think the saddest, the most dangerous thing is that we’ve come to expect that nothing really happens. There were some you know shining lights in the Anglo trial, not least that we did get a trial, we did get convictions. And, also, the only winners are the, the only people to emerge with their reputation intact is the jury system.”

Previously: ‘Who Created And Tolerated Light-Touch Regulation?’

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(Photocall Ireland)