Monday 22 January 2018

Anglo Tapes: Public rage pushes Coalition to choose bank inquiry option

Attorney General Maire Whelan
Attorney General Maire Whelan

Fionnan Sheahan and Fiach Kelly

THE Coalition will decide next week how the banking inquiry will be conducted as public outrage mounts over the revelations contained in the Irish Independent's Anglo tapes.

The Government's legal adviser is examining the various investigation options available and the strengths and weaknesses in each case, including a re-run of the defeated Oireachtas inquiries referendum.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny left the door open to holding another referendum to give the Oireachtas new powers for a banking inquiry.

The Attorney General Maire Whelan will report to the Cabinet next week on bank inquiry options, including:

* Oireachtas committee based on new legislation.

* Oireachtas committee with greater powers if a referendum is passed.

* Commission of Investigation.

* Tribunal of Inquiry.

"The Cabinet will decide next week but the most likely option is the Oireachtas committee. The preference is to have one as soon as possible," a government source said.

The Government is still weighing up the option of another referendum on the issue – after the public rejected giving extra powers to Dail committee inquiries in a referendum back in 2011.

Mr Kenny said the question of re-running this referendum had been raised with him.

"I haven't given a definitive answer to that yet," he said.

Mr Kenny acknowledged that a Dail inquiry, with the referendum being passed, would not have the power to make adverse findings against any bankers. But he said it could find out the background to decisions and how they were made.

MILLIONAIRE

He said he did not want to have an inquiry dragging on for up to 10 years and creating "millionaire lawyers" – as he rejected a call for the setting up of a banking inquiry tribunal by Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan indicated to the Fine Gael parliamentary party last night that ministers would make a decision as soon as next week on how the banking inquiry will be conducted. The weekly meeting, which went on for around two hours, was dominated by the Anglo tapes, with numerous TDs and ministers speaking on the issue.

However, there was no specific mention of a re-run of the referendum.

Health Minister James Reilly said garda investigations must be allowed take place, but insisted there must also be political accountability.

Mr Kenny said Justice Minister Alan Shatter will provide an update on investigations involving Anglo and other banking matters to TDs and senators next week.

But Transport Minster Leo Varadkar said an Oireachtas inquiry would be necessary since there would be many people who are not guilty of criminal offences but could have been negligent in their duties.

A public inquiry would highlight this, Mr Varadker said.

Irish Independent

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