Wednesday 18 October 2017

Doubts surface over new inquiry's timetable

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar
John Downing

John Downing

Doubts messages are emerging from Government about whether the new Commission of Inquiry into IBRC bank will report before the next general election.

Ministers from both parties, led by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, have strongly defended the decision to appoint a senior judge to lead an independent inquiry into the state bank's transactions with Denis O'Brien and other major business people.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday also defended the decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry and said it could meet the deadline of December 31 next.

But he also conceded it was possible that the Commission might miss its deadline and the report might not be finished until after the election.

"The timeframe set is to have it by December of this year. But if the judge said he wanted an extension, I don't think the Government could seriously say 'No.'

"And the wider the investigation and the more transactions that get looked at, the longer it could take," Mr Varadkar told Newstalk radio.

But Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton played down the prospect of the commission report not being completed before the general election campaign. She said the Commission will be able to get a head-start because of the review already started by IBRC's liquidators, KPMG, and this work in progress will now be given to the commission.

The Tánaiste said this KPMG material would actually help the new inquiry to make swift progress. But Ms Burton also conceded that delays cannot be ruled out.

"All judges can come back if there are things that require greater depth of examination - but there will have been some work done already in relation to the work that was being carried on in the earlier exercise" the Tánaiste said.

"But we'll have to see - it does actually address, for instance, issues around governance" she added.

The latest date for the next election is April 9, 2016, 14 weeks after the inquiry report deadline is cited.

Irish Independent

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