Monday 26 September 2016

Banking Inquiry rocked by rumours of a minority report

Members unhappy with official 'toothless' dossier

Published 18/10/2015 | 02:30

Previously opposition members including Joe Higgins have been unhappy with various aspects of the inquiry
Previously opposition members including Joe Higgins have been unhappy with various aspects of the inquiry

Deeply unhappy members of the €5m Oireachtas Banking Inquiry are looking to prepare so-called 'minority reports' because they fear the official report will be toothless.

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Several inquiry members, speaking on the basis of anonymity, fear the highly restrictive legal limits that have been placed upon the committee since the start will severely limit the report.

"Yes there is a fear the report will be nobbled by the legal advice and the report won't have any teeth," said one leading member.

The Sunday Independent has been informed that disgruntled members of the committee are now considering preparing an alternative report, because large tranches of relevant information will have to be excluded from the official report.

Under the strict legal strictures, the report will not be able to blame anyone individual or institution for the crash and can only make a statement of fact.

Previously, opposition members including Joe Higgins, Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry and Independent Senator Sean Barrett have all been unhappy with various aspects of the inquiry.

Such an alternative report or reports would allow members to express their own individual conclusions, separate to the official report.

Mr Higgins, it is believed, will have great difficulty in signing and approving the final official report, given his well-known discomfort over the inquiry's limited scope.

Sources feel it is inevitable that Mr Higgins will release some report in his own name.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr MacSharry said: "I wouldn't be opposed to it because the act is certainly not fit for purpose in terms of the inquiry. I can understand that a minority report might be necessary, but let's see what pans out," he added.

Another member said: "The lawyers can f*ck off if they think they can water this down to the extent it is meaningless. I haven't given this 18 months to allow that happen."

But Fianna Fail's Finance spokesman Michael McGrath said he would wish such a minority report could be avoided.

"We certainly don't want a situation where members feel it necessary to publish a minority report. That would take from the whole process, and would be very unsatisfactory and I would be working to avoid that," he said.

A first draft of the report will be completed within the next three weeks at which stage members will begin approving a final version.

Sunday Independent

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