Sunday 25 September 2016

Bank Inquiry in crisis over 'weak and confusing' draft report

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Published 19/11/2015 | 02:30

Banking Inquiry chair Ciaran Lynch: probe faces new probe
Banking Inquiry chair Ciaran Lynch: probe faces new probe

The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry has been plunged into a fresh crisis after a number of members expressed deep frustration over what they describe as a "weak" and "confusing" report.

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Several sources who have studied the draft document last night warned that the inquiry team is facing major difficulties in securing consensus among members.

The 11 members of the inquiry and their officials have this week been given their first opportunity to study the draft report. The closely supervised exercise has been taking place in the Department of Agriculture offices close to Leinster House.

The report is said to be highly critical of the Regulator and its role in overseeing lending practices by the banks prior to the collapse.

Among the draft proposals is to make the advice given to Cabinet by the Finance Minister of the day available under Freedom of Information laws, the Irish Independent understands.

But such is the level of secrecy around the report, committee members are told to hand over their mobile phones before they are permitted to read the final draft document.

The move is aimed at ensuring that no leaks to the media can take place.

Farce

Several sources expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the manner in which they have been allowed to study the document.

"It feels like we are doing our Leaving Cert and every one of our moves are being watched," said one source.

"It's an absolute farce, I've never seen anything like it," added another.

Others have described the process as "completely rushed" and concurred that elements of the draft report were "weak" and "confusing".

"There is a lack of coherency in parts. It's clear they want this rail-roaded through and published prior to the General Election," said one member.

TDs and senators have been instructed not to make any public comments on the draft report.

But privately, several have voiced doubts over whether the report will secure the agreement of the entire inquiry.

If members fails to reach unanimity in relation to the contents of the final report, a decision may be made to seek a majority agreement. But such a decision would bring the credibility of the entire investigation into serious doubt.

TDs, senators and their officials have until tomorrow to submit amendments to the report to date.

Last night, a spokesman for the Oireachtas said the procedures for reading the report were agreed in advance.

"Procedures for reading the draft report were agreed by the committee. The draft report is now with the committee and amendments will be discussed next week," he said.

The spokesman said the committee would meet for three days next week for amendments - Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A two-week consultation with affected parties would then take place, he added.

It is expected that the committee will finalise its report before Christmas. There is then a 21-day period before the committee sends the report to the Dáil and Seanad for a full debate and approval.

Irish Independent

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