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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Leinster House's banking inquiry refit to cost €1.6m

Published 28/06/2014 | 02:30

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Ciaran Lynch: inquiry chairman
Ciaran Lynch: inquiry chairman

LEINSTER House authorities will spend €1.6m on refurbishment and changes to committee rooms to facilitate the banking inquiry hearings.

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The changes, which will include wheelchair and disabled access and more space in the public gallery, will also benefit future parliamentary inquiries.

The expenditure is part of an overall €5.3m budget set aside for the inquiry, with the bulk of the money being earmarked for administrative back-up, information technology including a website, and other facilities.

Sources said the most likely venue for the 11-member panel was Committee Room Number 1, in the basement of the Leinster House 2000 building.

There are already issues about disabled access to this area, which have to be resolved and this is expected to be done as part of other alterations.

The Office of Public Works is expected to be preparing a tendering process but it cannot go ahead until the committee is given full legal status in September.

Logistical

Senior officials considered a lot of options on the venue for the hearings before settling on keeping it at Leinster House.

Dublin Castle, which was the scene of previous marathon tribunal of inquiry hearings, was considered but not chosen because of logistical problems .

The seven TDs and four senators on the committee have already had two meetings.

Work will continue at its next meeting on Wednesday on trying to work out a compromise on the inquiry's timescale.

The committee has agreed that work should be completed by November 2015, which suggests a very focused timeframe.

But some members believe the inquiry should begin a decade ago with the property price spiral.

Committee chairman Ciaran Lynch of Labour believes a compromise can be agreed but the broad timeframe of about 15 years does not appear feasible .

The inquiry will look at the bank collapse in autumn 2008 which left taxpayers with €64bn in debt to bail out the banks.

It is likely to focus especially on the quality of information given by the banks to the Government in late September 2008 when a special guarantee on deposits of up to €100,000 was approved.

Irish Independent

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