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Saturday 16 December 2017

McGuinness actions may have scuttled bank probe, PAC believes

Today's hearing was chaired by John McGuinness TD
Today's hearing was chaired by John McGuinness TD

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

PUBLIC Accounts Committee members believe they won't get to conduct the keenly anticipated banking inquiry because of the actions of their chairman, Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness.

Mr McGuinness continues to be embroiled in controversy following revelations in the Irish Independent about the spending on the Fianna Fail TD's former ministerial office, which he had no hand in the specification or fit-out, his son's overtime and his justification of his wife accompanying him on trips abroad.

Mr McGuinness was told by TDs on his own committee this week that his position has been damaged by speculating about "powerful forces" who may be out to get him. But some members believe his actions as chairman have ensured the PAC will not be given the banking inquiry by the Government.

Last year, Mr McGuinness was given a thinly veiled warning by colleagues on the Dail taxpayers' watchdog about mouthing off about holding a banking inquiry.

A PAC member told this newspaper the latest controversy has compounded the existing concerns about the committee. But there was a feeling the Government had already decided long before the latest incidents that Mr McGuinness's actions meant the PAC would not get the inquiry.

"It's not going anywhere near the PAC. Opinion hardened within Government. The last place the banking inquiry will end up is the PAC," a source said.

Members of the Dail Public Accounts Committee cautioned Mr McGuinness last year about making announcements before any decisions were made and the powers of the inquiry are actually decided upon.

Mr McGuinness had made a number of public comments about plans to set up an inquiry.

But members of the committee expressed concerns about the inquiry entering the public domain when nothing was agreed.


"We must be very careful to manage people's expectation and to ensure the reputation of the committee is not damaged by giving the impression that something might happen that will not," Labour Party TD Derek Nolan said at the time.

TDs on the PAC are now privately warning that Mr McGuinness's position will come under further pressure if he continues with his "powerful forces" claims.

Irish Independent

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