AN extraordinary row has broken out between Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe over the allegedly "partisan" nature of the proposed banking inquiry.
The spat was sparked by Mr Kehoe's claim in the Seanad that Fianna Fail TDs and senators were attacking banks in the hope that this would disqualify them from having to sit on the troubled inquiry.
Responding to concerns by Fianna Fail Senator Darragh O'Brien that the Government's position on bias would disqualify many able Oireachtas members, Mr Kehoe said: "There are many people in the Seanad and Dail who have not issued biased utterances about bankers . . . perhaps there are not a lot of them on the senator's side because they wanted to remove themselves from the committee."
Mr Martin responded: "Many of Mr Kehoe's own TDs have criticised banks for the best of motives. Is Mr Kehoe saying they were trying to get off the inquiry too?
"The ongoing partisan spirit of Minister Kehoe and members of the Government who appear to have already written its terms of reference and conclusion . . . now runs a real risk of collapsing the inquiry."
Responding to Mr Martin's charges, Mr Kehoe said: "There is no desire for a witch-hunt. What we want is to learn from history so what happened in the past does not happen again and to get to that truth as swiftly as possible."