Monday 24 October 2016

Banking Inquiry 'to be abandoned' if report is queried

Fears that final report is 'less balanced' than draft

Published 13/12/2015 | 02:30

Marc MacSharry
Marc MacSharry

The Banking Inquiry is likely be abandoned completely if serious concerns are raised about the final report which was sent to interested parties last week.

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The Sunday Independent understands committee members discussed entirely abandoning the embattled inquiry into the collapse of the Irish economy during a heated meeting before signing off on the final report. At the meeting in Leinster House, the committee's legal team warned that the final report was "almost worse" than the draft version which caused dissent within the inquiry.

Lawyers are believed to have a given a "brutal" frank assessment of the final report, which they said was less balanced than the first draft. However, legal changes were made to reduce the chances of those named in the report launching court actions to have elements of the findings removed.

Despite the warnings, committee members voted to sign off on the report and sent it to those mentioned in the findings. "The decision was taken to put it out as a form of external quality assurance and if it comes back with a tonne of stuff, we will have to drop it," a committee source said.

The first 750-page report was rejected by committee members and it was decided that a 'finalisation team' would perform an overhaul of the document. "The rescue attempt didn't work, the lawyers told us, but we decided put it out anyway," another committee source said.

"In trimming down the report, we have gotten rid of a lot content and the lawyers said it wasn't clear why we did that and that it makes it a less accurate portrayal of what actually happened in the inquiry," the source added.

The report was sent electronically to all those named in it and those who came before the hearings over the last year. There is a December 28 deadline to respond to the inquiry with changes or submissions. If the changes are significant or if there are legal challenges, it is believed the committee will not have time to meet its own deadline to publish on January 27.

One of the only people understood to be mentioned in the report who could not be reached was controversial former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Sources said the investigation team could not get in contact with Mr Strauss-Kahn or find an address to send the report to.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail senator and committee member Marc MacSharry has insisted the Houses of the Oireachtas Service should apologise to a whistleblower who made serious allegations about the committee's work during the summer. The whistleblower's claims of improper conduct were dismissed by barrister Senan Allen who carried out a review of the allegations.

Mr Allen published a 140-page report which found none of the allegations raised were well-founded.

However, the whistleblower wrote back to the committee calling for the barrister's report to be withdrawn. Mr MacSharry said he will also be calling on the Oireachtas to withdraw Mr Allen's report.

He said he will also ask the Comptroller and Auditor General this week to investigate the Banking Inquiry allegations along with his review of fresh claims from a Central Bank whistleblower.

The Banking Inquiry whistleblower raised concerns about evidence given to the inquiry by the Central Bank.

The Central Bank whistleblower claims they were sacked after raising concerns about being asked to change an audit. The Central Bank denies acting inappropriately.

Sunday Independent

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