Sunday 15 September 2019

Bank Inquiry split: vote may be needed to finalise report

Joe Higgins
Joe Higgins

Kevin Doyle and Ralph Riegel

A simple majority is likely to be used to get the Banking Inquiry's report over the line as several members waver over whether they can give it their seal of approval.

The Government's decision to change the rules so that Fine Gael and Labour would take six of the 11 seats on the inquiry could yet prove crucial as members go through the report and edit it "chapter by chapter".

Already, Socialist TD Joe Higgins has indicated it is "extremely unlikely" that he will support the final report.

All members of the inquiry have expressed unease with the contents of the draft report, which was furnished by civil servants last week.

"Members had to take control because they weren't happy with the report," said a source.

"There were definitely a lot of gaps, omissions that the members couldn't live with."

A special 'report-finalisation team' of seven has just 24 hours to decide how many of the over 1,000 amendments tabled should be made.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy and Labour Senator Susan O'Keeffe are to work with five civil servants over the next 24 hours in an attempt to come up with a suitable compromise.

A source said their job was to take members' views on board while "restructuring" and "reworking" the 700-page draft report by tomorrow evening.

But Mr Higgins said the present report was "unamendable" and there was "no way in the world" he could sign off on it.

One of Fianna Fáil's two representatives on the inquiry team, Michael McGrath, told the Irish Independent it would be "very challenging" to get a final report in time.

The official deadline for publication is January 20, but realistically they have a week to 10 days to agree on the final draft, which will be sent out to everyone named in the report for their feedback.

"It's inevitable that nobody on the committee will be fully happy with the final report. Everyone is coming at it from their own perspective," said Mr McGrath.

"It is still an 11-member committee, but it was always felt that it would be extremely challenging to get a report that everyone agreed on."

Inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch said: "The report cannot be based on a political narrative, an ideology. It must be based upon that which was presented before the inquiry and on the findings as drawn from that.

"It's not just about looking at what suits oneself. It's about giving the best possible explanation as to what happened, but it's also about ensuring that the type of crisis that was visited upon this country is not revisited upon it again."

Tánaiste Joan Burton said yesterday that the committee owed it to the people of Ireland to agree on a report.

She added: "I certainly hope that all deputies and senators will co-operate with that and I would be very confident that they will because people have spent an awful lot of time (on it in the) two floors down in Leinster House."

Irish Independent

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