Saturday 18 November 2017

Banking Inquiry agree to 'shortened report' following lengthy talks

BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: Kieran O’Donnell along with his Inquiry colleagues must be exhausted by the banking saga which has declined from dull theatre into total chaos
BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: Kieran O’Donnell along with his Inquiry colleagues must be exhausted by the banking saga which has declined from dull theatre into total chaos

John Downing and Kevin Doyle

A MAJORITY of Oirechtas Banking Inquiry members signed off on a draft report late tonight without agreeing on an executive summary.

Instead a "chairman's summary" which sets out some of the key findings and background to the crisis is to be included.

The committee, minus Joe Higgins and Pearse Doherty, approved 11 chapters which will be forwarded for legal review today before being sent to interested parties for comment later this week.

In a statement issued shortly before 11pm, Committee chairman Ciaran Lynch said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Committee members for their hard work and commitment throughout this process.

The new Central Bank governor Prof Philip Lane
The new Central Bank governor Prof Philip Lane

"We worked together to deliver to the Irish public an inquiry and agree a draft report on the banking crisis that was long overdue.

“Enormous credit is due, not only to my fellow Committee members, but to their staff and to the staff of the Inquiry, for their hard work and dedication in completing this stage of the process.”

A source said the politicians decided to drop the contentious executive summary as it was felt that it would not be completed within the deadline available to the committee.

The summary would normally be the most read section of such a report.

Banking Inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch
Banking Inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch

Mr Lynch repeatedly expressed his determination to see the report through to publication and within the ultimate deadline of January 28.

But others on the committee suggested it would be extremely difficult to achieve this – and at all events that the end product may fall far short of the limited expectations people had of it from the outset.

Lawyers must now vet the draft text to ensure it does not breach any of the extremely tight legal constraints, which include an obligation to avoiding blaming any individual.

Then sections of the draft which deal with institutions and individuals must be circulated to them for any comments or replies to criticisms which they may have.

In his statement, Mr Lynch noted that Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Joe Higgins and Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty had decided not to sign-off on the report, but thanked them for their contributions.

Mr Higgins said he will explain his reasons more fully today. But Mr Doherty said the report did not answer key questions to which the Irish people, who suffered the consequences of the €64bn bank collapse, deserved detailed replies.

The committee met for 15 hours on Saturday. They began work yesterday at 9.30am, and took only very short breaks before finally concluding just before 11pm.

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