Wednesday 13 December 2017

Coalition won't rule out re-run of Oireachtas inquiries vote

'Jail the Bankers' protesters in Dublin at the weekend
'Jail the Bankers' protesters in Dublin at the weekend

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Government is likely to stick to its original plan of using a parliamentary committee to hold the banking inquiry, but is ready to re-run the failed Oireachtas inquiries referendum if necessary.

Senior sources in Fine Gael and Labour say the Coalition is unlikely to ask voters again if they want to grant Oireachtas committees more powers. A parliamentary inquiry is the more likely option, and sources say the front-runner to hold the probe is the Oireachtas sub-committee on finance. The next option is a newly constituted committee, and a distant third is the Public Accounts Committee.

The inquiry will be discussed by Cabinet at its weekly meeting tomorrow, but it is unlikely a final decision will be made then. However, sources said it would be decided before the Dail rises for its summer break later this month.

Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin says he is open to re-running the failed Oireachtas inquiries referendum in the wake of uproar over the Anglo Tapes.

Mr Howlin says new legislation he has introduced establishing Oireachtas inquiries will be adequate for the bank probe, but isn't ruling out another referendum.

POWERS

A Labour source said they were still a long way from actually choosing to run the referendum again.

At last week's cabinet meeting, ministers discussed going to the people again on their proposal to give more powers to Oireachtas committees and are expected to return to the topic tomorrow.

However, a senior minister said this now looks "unlikely".

A spokesman for Taoiseach Enda Kenny said more referendums could take place but added a "final decision" on whether any more would be put to the people was "unlikely" to be made tomorrow.

Attorney General Maire Whelan is expected to present ministers with a list of options on how to proceed with an inquiry.

On the issue of a referendum, Mr Howlin said: "I wouldn't rule out revisiting that issue but I don't certainly think we should park an investigation until we get new legislation, get that through the Dail in the autumn, fix a date for a referendum, have a new referendum commission to do it.

"That'll be well into next year. The demand, the urgency, the requirement of the Irish people is to get on with the people's business now."

Irish Independent

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