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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Bank inquiry descends into farce

Published 13/06/2014 | 02:30

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the walking rails in the Physiotherapy Room after he opened a new Day Hospital for Care of the Elderly at St. Joseph's Hospital Raheny yesterday and (inset) Ivana Bacik in the Seanad yesterday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the walking rails in the Physiotherapy Room after he opened a new Day Hospital for Care of the Elderly at St. Joseph's Hospital Raheny yesterday and (inset) Ivana Bacik in the Seanad yesterday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny makes his way through angry water charge protestors yesterday after he opened a new Day Hospital for Care of the Elderly at St. Joseph's Hospital Raheny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny makes his way through angry water charge protestors yesterday after he opened a new Day Hospital for Care of the Elderly at St. Joseph's Hospital Raheny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's car makes his way through angry water charge protestors

The banking inquiry has already descended into farce, with threats by one member to withdraw and further delays in the investigation.

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The fallout from the Government's decision to ensure that a majority of members come from Coalition parties has damaged the credibility of the inquiry.

One senator said the Government's changes to the banking inquiry would "make Hitler ashamed" and was comparable to "Communist Russia".

Senators also complained about being treated like "Muppets" after the Government decided to add two members to the inquiry.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore claimed the committee selecting the members from the Seanad had "pulled a stroke", which was angrily denied by Fianna Fail.

And Independent TD Stephen Donnelly said he was considering whether to stay on the committee.

Mr Donnelly said: "It was very disappointing to hear the Taoiseach say that the Government needs a majority on the inquiry, and that the Government members will determine the terms of reference.

"We should be setting up an Oireachtas inquiry into the banking collapse, but instead we appear to be setting up a Fine Gael-Labour inquiry into Fianna Fail."

The committee is due to meet for the first time next week to begin putting a plan together for carrying out the inquiry, which will then have to be approved by an internal Dail committee.

But the plan of work won't be ready until after the summer break – so the committee won't begin its investigation for another four months at least.

The Government took the step to impose two more members after a procedural mess-up by the Coalition resulted in the opposition having a majority on the committee.

Fianna Fail Senator Ned O'Sullivan compared the Government's actions on the banking inquiry to a dictatorship.

"Hitler would have been ashamed of it," he said.

"The worst day in democracy since the Blueshirts."

His party colleague, Senator Labhras O Murchu said the changes had "a whiff of Communist Russia". The measure has been described as turning the the banking inquiry into a "kangaroo court".

Fianna Fail Senator Paschal Mooney said the Coalition was telling the Seanad "be good little Muppets and do what the Government want you to do".

The proposal will increase the number of members on the banking inquiry from nine to 11.

Fine Gael Senator Michael D'Arcy and Labour Party Senator Susan O'Keeffe will be added to the membership when a motion is put to the Seanad later this morning.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said the committee selecting the members was "ambushed".

The Coalition initially proposed the inquiry team would be made up of five government representatives and four from the opposition side.

However, the issue was subject to a heated row last week after Fianna Fail's Marc MacSharry was appointed to the inquiry team because the Government's preferred candidate, Ms O'Keeffe, and some of her colleagues failed to turn up for the vote.

Fine Gael senator Maurice Cummins objected to Mr MacSharry's membership, claiming that he suffered from a conflict of interest. He later withdrew the remark.

Speaking in the Dail on Tuesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the banking inquiry would not have a proper mandate unless it consisted of a majority of government members.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny was confronted by anti-water charge protesters as he attended an event at St Joseph's Hospital in Raheny.

Mr Kenny was at the launch of a new €2.1m day hospital for care of the elderly at the facility when he was confronted by angry protesters.

At one point, Mr Kenny walked into the group of around 20 people and began to answer questions.

The group walked round Mr Kenny's car, shouting slogans about a range of issues.

One man was arrested during the confrontation following a stand-off with a plain-clothed garda.

The 24-year-old man, who was arrested on a public order charge, was taken to Raheny garda station.

Irish Independent

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