Sunday 25 March 2018

Banking Inquiry: It was never going to be able to 'name and shame' those responsible for crash

The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry is expected to face fresh delays
The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry is expected to face fresh delays
John Downing

John Downing

IT BEGAN work a year ago with at least one hand tied behind its back.

It was never going to be able “to name and shame” people responsible for the banking collapse in 2008 which landed Irish taxpayers with an initial bill of €64bn.  In October 2011 voters rejected a referendum proposal to give such semi-judicial powers to parliamentary inquiries.

It faced further complications over its membership, as the Government insisted on a majority, and then made a hash of nominations. It was on the receiving end of a “hospital pass” from none other than An Taoiseach, who suggested in the Dáil that its job would be to uncover “the axis of collusion” between the former Anglo Irish Bank and Fianna Fáil.

It came as no surpise yesterday when Socialist leader, Joe Higgins, and Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty delivered on their expected threats to walk from the process. It was always going to be difficult for nine TDs and four senators, from a variety of parties and none, to agree a final draft.

But last night the committee’s dogged chairman, Ciarán Lynch, was making every effort to accentuate the positive. It was remarkable that while two walked, all other nine members stayed to see it through.

This included the two Fianna Fáil members, assuaged by their former colleagues not being unduly criticised, and Independents.  A draft of sorts has been agreed and will be sent to the lawyers for vetting later today.

The committee meets again on Thursday.  This one is far from over.

When the lawyers have done their work the plan is to forward relevant sections to people and institutions involved so they can comment by reply.  Final publication date is January 28 – expected to be among the last acts of this Government.

But a total re-think of these type of inquiries is vital. If we are to bother at all they must be empowered – however that is achieved.

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