Cowen happy to face public hearing
Taoiseach Brian Cowen will not object to public hearings into his role in the banking collapse, he signalled.
While the long-awaited inquiry into the financial crisis will be mostly behind closed doors, there is a provision under law that evidence can be made openly.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny challenged Mr Cowen not to stand in the way of public hearings for his own testimony and that of former Taoisigh and Finance Ministers.
Dismissing allegations that he had set up a whitewash designed to protect insiders, Mr Cowen said he would fully co-operate with the commission of investigation, however it chooses to take evidence.
"I have no problem whatever in relation to any of these matters, and how the commission wishes to proceed," he said.
"I will facilitate that without any difficulty, in terms of how I deal with my responsibility."
The banking probe is based on the same model as recent inquiries in clerical child sex abuse and will be set up under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.
The law states, under section 11, that the investigation be held in private unless a witness requests for all or part of it to be in public - and the commission grants that request.
The commission can also compel a witness to make public testimony if it believes it to be in the best interests of the inquiry and fair procedures.
Mr Cowen vowed he would comply however the commission decides to carry out its work.