Monday 20 November 2017

Banking: Inquiry continues despite whistleblower claims, Enda Kenny giving evidence

Mr Kenny is expected to use his appearance to criticise the stewardship of Fianna Fáil over its years in government
Mr Kenny is expected to use his appearance to criticise the stewardship of Fianna Fáil over its years in government
John Downing

John Downing

The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry will continue hearings and work to its November completion deadline - despite claims by a whistleblower which raise serious questions about it.

One committee member last night said there must be an independent investigation of the claims before the end of next month. Senator Marc MacSharry of Fianna Fáil said everybody who worked on the project wanted to see it finished in good order and on time.

"We have all worked on this process and want to see it completed. But these allegations are extremely serious and they must be independently investigated," Senator MacSharry told the Irish Independent.

Read more: Enda Kenny's opening statement

The allegations are understood to centre on claims that the Finance Department and Central Bank were given preferential treatment in the inquiry process. Yesterday, the controversy took another turn as the 'Sunday Independent' reported that the whistleblower's pay had been stopped.

Other political sources said the matter can be effectively dealt with by senior staff at Leinster House. It was confirmed that five days of hearings between now and the end of the month - including an appearance by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Thursday - before the seven TDs and five senators will go ahead.

More scheduled hearings for early September will also go ahead and the committee members will then begin the complex task of writing their report. The overall deadline for completion is next November and the committee now faces a challenging week with pressure for an outside probe.

The Taoiseach is appearing in his capacity as ex-opposition leader rather than his current role.

The Tánaiste Joan Burton, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte are also to be questioned on their role as opposition Oireachtas members ahead of and during the banking crisis.

The whistleblower's allegations were first made known to some members in April. But they were only relayed to the full committee last Wednesday and this added to internal tensions about the issue, and Senator MacSharry then made known his objections to the way the matter was being treated.

Mr Kenny is expected to use his appearance to criticise the stewardship of Fianna Fáil over its years in government. He is expected to concede that Fine Gael did espouse many similar economic policies in opposition.

But he will direct his criticisms especially at social partnership which he has already described as "secretive".

Irish Independent

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