‘A Bystander In A Car Crash’



[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?’

Listen back here

(Photocall Ireland)

20 thoughts on “‘A Bystander In A Car Crash’

  1. uuuuuuuum

    “The three little sentences that will get you through life.
    One: Cover for me.
    Two: Ooh, good idea boss.
    Three: It was like that when I got here.”

    we are living in a Simpsons episode of a society

  2. What Goes Up...

    Dearbhail keeps saying that the one good thing to come out of the trail was that the jury system works.

    But what’s the point in the jury system working if the judge then sentences as if they got it wrong?

    The jury in the share support scheme were told all legal and regulatory advice was null and void and to rule on the basis of legality of the defendants actions – so they ruled it was illegal.

    The judge then sentences them, not based on their jury-ruled illegal actions, but on the basis of the legal and regulatory input he told the jury to ignore.

    How the f*ck is that the jury system working Dearbhail?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      The jury did it’s job as you pointed out. And in this case found them guilty.

      Our sentencing for these types of crimes is pathetic…. surely that’s where your beef should be.

      I believe that is Dearbhail’s point, the jury is the only element of the system working but the sentencing is, again, just pathetic. And so it is the part of the system not working. Not working to discourage or prevent bankers from gambling or acting illegally (with or without a green light from the regulator).

      And that’s my beef with this.

      Lead on by the regulator, what a croc….! They new they were acting illegally green light or no green light and the justice system / sentencing failed to produce an appropriate penalty for the crime of a guilty verdict the jury came to.

      1. jungleman

        Like I previously said, a strict liability offence shouldn’t be strictly sentenced. The system as it operates allowed the judge to completely undermine the jury, the usefulness of s.60, and the entire notion of a strict liability offence.

      2. What Goes Up...

        The first 19 of the 40 day trial was taken up with the legal and regulatory advice given.

        The judge then turned around and said ignore everything you’ve heard.

        The jury could then only rule on the remaining evidence.

        So saying the sentencing was the aberration is only half the story – the judge was directing this trial and the jury throughout.

  3. B Hewson

    I saw Kevin Cardiff’s Gaf on MTV cribs a while back. Full carvery lunch set-up in the back-garden for 20 mates. Rotates between beef, pork and lamb every other day. 3 pub style taps on the table: Mashed potatoes in one, carrots and parsnips the other and gravy. Big screen for watching the late-late show with the lads and six-one news while he chills. Some man so he is, so he is.

  4. Ferret McGruber

    It’s a wonderful time to be a civil servant. All can rest assured that, as Neary has so ably demonstrated, they will never be held accountable for their actions.

    It is a wonderful time to be a solicitor. All can rest assured that they can tell their clients any old flute and they will never be held accountable for their actions.

    It is always a wonderful time to be a member of Dail Eireann – serving or retired. They too will never be held accountable for their actions.

    It is a bad time to be a citizen of Ireland. We pay for the actions of everyone else.

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