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Thursday 24 July 2014

Bank probe 'D-day of truth' looms

JOHN DRENNAN

Published 22/06/2014|02:30

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he will give his account to a state inquiry on the controversy if called up
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he will give his account to a state inquiry on the controversy if called up

Enda Kenny's controversial banking inquiry faces what one source called "a D-day of truth" when it meets on Wednesday to discuss its terms of reference.

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The inquiry has been mired in conflict over accusations of government interference, spiralling tribunal-style legal fees and new concerns that cabinet confidentiality will make a farce of its investigation.

The Sunday Independent has also learnt that suspicion is growing over the slow pace of an inquiry that is timed to report in October next year.

One senior figure warned: "You cannot but note that the inquiry is timed to report next October just as the Coalition plans a final give-away budget.

"We are not prepared to be used as political pawns in some election game," the source added.

In a signal of troubled times to come, the inquiry has already rebelled against the suggestion made in the first meeting last week that public hearings will not be held until May and June of next year.

One source said: "They were clearly told that sort of delay is not going to be a runner, the officials were told that the due date has to be forwarded by a considerable degree.''

Concerns are also growing over costs and it was suggested by one member of the committee that the OPW is charging €700,000 to fit out the offices for the inquiry.

The view of members of the inquiry that "we will probably have to go before the courts to resolve the issue of cabinet confidentiality".

That may mean costs could rise even further.

One source noted: "Cabinet confidentiality could be the fatal flaw'' and warned "it is highly likely that top civil servants may be the first to run to the courts on that one".

A major row is also brewing about the perceived desire of the Government to tightly confine the terms of reference to the night of the banking guarantee. Members are believed to be particularly concerned about attempts to condition the members into accepting very confined terms of reference because of the tight timeframe.

Sunday Independent

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