Bank Inquiry wants to hear from ex editors on crash coverage
The €5m Oireachtas Banking Inquiry wants to hear from editors of the country's national newspapers and leading business journalists for two days next month.
Former Irish Independent editor Gerry O'Regan, former 'Irish Times' editor Geraldine Kennedy and former RTE bosses Cathal Goan and Ed Mulhall are among those set to be summoned before the inquiry.
The journalistic heavy weights will be quizzed as to their organisations' reportage in the run-up to, during and after the banking crash.
They are also set to be tackled as to their coverage of the housing market up until the property downturn.
The Irish Independent has learnt that academic and columnist Elaine Byrne is being called before the inquiry, as is 'Irish Times' journalist Simon Carswell, who will be quizzed about his book 'Anglo Republic'.
At a private meeting of the inquiry, it was suggested that the 'Irish Examiner' be called in, but the probe headed by Cork TD Ciaran Lynch ultimately rejected the idea.
Other media names are likely to be confirmed as early as next week.
Behind the scenes, there are mixed feelings within the inquiry as to the merit of giving two days over to hearing from the media, when Anglo Irish Bank, for example, is only being given a day.
Socialist TD Joe Higgins is said to be the inquiry member who is keenest to hear from the former editors.
"Joe is pushing this hard, and has suggested repeatedly that the media were largely to blame for prime pumping the property market.
"Others like me on the inquiry are not as keen on this. This is largely peripheral in the greater scheme of things," said one inquiry member.
"We would be better having more time with the main players, not wasting time with this stuff which is likely to yield very little," the member added.
But it has also emerged that during discussions in private session, inquiry members were angered by the inclusion of the name of a former Irish Independent editor - the late Vinnie Doyle - on the list of potential witnesses.
"Members were very put out by that, and there were a few people shuffling in their seats when the mistake was realised," said one member.
Several sources have confirmed that Mr Doyle's name was included in error by someone who failed to check the names properly.
"Yes, it was a stupid error but there was a full apology," said another inquiry source.
The inquiry has also begun putting shape on its agenda for its key nexus phase, which is due to commence on April 22.
This will be the main body of work of the inquiry.
It will be during this phase that many of the main players in the crisis, including former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, his ministers, top officials and bankers will appear.
The inquiry has confirmed that it intends calling around 50 witnesses to give evidence in the public hearings.
Others who have relevant testimony but who will not be called for public hearings will be required to provide witness statements.
The main difference in the nexus phase from the current context phase is that the committee will have the power to compel witnesses, documents and evidence.
The inquiry is aiming to conclude its public hearings by September and is looking to produce its final report by the end of November.
Last Wednesday, the inquiry heard from former ESRI director John FitzGerald.
He conceded that statements that the fundamentals of the Irish economy being sound in May 2008 were mistaken and that he could no longer stand over them.
Asked by Fianna Fáil senator Marc MacSharry whether the response from the Regulator to his concerns was "unsatisfactory", Prof FitzGerald agreed that his concerns were not properly heeded.