Thursday 26 April 2018

Kenny to reflect on new inquiry powers vote

Taoiseach Enda Kenny addresses the IFA Executive Council meeting yesterday. Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny addresses the IFA Executive Council meeting yesterday. Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke

Cormac McQuinn and Louise Hogan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that another referendum on the powers of Oireachtas inquiries should be considered, as the Banking Inquiry came under fire in the Dáil.

The Inquiry was branded "a fiasco" and "a waste of time" by Independent TD Shane Ross - as it was not permitted to make findings of fact against any individuals.

The Inquiry's investigative abilities were limited after a proposal to beef up the powers of Oireachtas committees was rejected by the people in 2011.

Now Mr Kenny has said that another referendum should be considered.

Attending an event at the Irish Farmers' Association's Dublin headquarters, he was asked by reporters if the findings of the Inquiry were weak.

"I don't accept that," Mr Kenny said. "I do accept that it was limited and constrained in what the members could do and they did a great deal of work on it."

He added: "It should be considered that we might have a future referendum again on that matter."

Mr Kenny said he hoped such an inquiry will never have to be carried out again.

However, he said that politicians who serve on such committees would have had the "constitutional and legal authority to carry out full and investigative inquiries" if the 2011 referendum had been carried.

"So I think that is an issue I'll reflect on," he added.

Deputy Ross argued in the Dáil that the Inquiry was "utterly hamstrung" by its parameters forbidding findings of fact against any individuals.

Bankers are "rejoicing because this report could not find any fault with them," he said.

"The same is true of the developers, the auditors, the consultants and, indeed, individually, the regulators."

He said that Jean-Claude Trichet was "rightly" the "fall guy" but added that his "name is in lights" because "the others could not be touched". He branded the report "a fiasco, a waste of time and very difficult for many of us to accept".


Inquiry member and Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty - who refused to sign the final report - blames the "constraints" it was under for analysis he says is lacking in the report.

"This is unacceptable and a fundamental failing," he said.

Another member, John Paul Phelan of Fine Gael, said it was "extremely frustrating" when witnesses gave differing versions of events and the Inquiry didn't have the power to "adjudicate on who was right or wrong".

Labour's Pat Rabbitte said he believes that a parliament that doesn't have the right of inquiry by committee "is a diminished parliament".

Irish Independent

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