Monday 16 October 2017

State has €3m earmarked for banking inquiry

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

THE Government is setting aside an initial tranche of €3m for the banking inquiry as a signal of intent of the seriousness of the Oireachtas investigation.

The funding will be primarily used to pay for legal, banking, accounting and economic experts to work for the inquiry.

Further funding will be made available as the inquiry progresses.

The Cabinet will discuss the best way to proceed with an Oireachtas inquiry today.

The Government is also expected to offer additional resources to the gardai and the DPP, if required, to pursue banking prosecutions.

The option of holding a referendum to provide greater powers of investigation is being held in reserve.

Instead, the inquiry will operate under new legislation being introduced by Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin.

The Coalition plans to have the inquiry set up by autumn, although it is not yet clear how the committee carrying it out will be made up.

The Government is conscious of not doing anything to jeopardise criminal cases pending from investigations into the banking sector.

The Coalition is considering a banking inquiry that would question politicians and officials – but not bankers.

Ministers are weighing up an investigation that would deliberately steer clear of calling banking witnesses, to avoid prejudicing any prosecutions in the pipeline.

Instead, the probe would call in former ministers, senior civil servants from the Departments of Finance and Taoiseach and senior officials from the Central Bank and Financial Regulator.

The option would be open to call in bankers after court cases are completed.

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