Friday 24 November 2017

McGuinness's suitability for banking inquiry questioned

John McGuinness
John McGuinness

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

A MEMBER of the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has kept the pressure up on embattled chairman John McGuinness by questioning his suitability to chair a banking inquiry.

And a cabinet minister warned about the significant role of the PAC being upheld as the committee continues to be overshadowed by the furore surrounding the FF TD.

Mr McGuinness is still embroiled in controversies 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. Far from putting the various issues to bed, Mr McGuinness continues to come under fire from members of his own committee.

Without calling for Mr McGuinness to resign, a number of committee members are being openly critical of his handling of the matter.

Labour Party TD Derek Nolan said he did not believe Mr McGuinness should chair the banking inquiry.

The Galway West TD said he was worried the banking inquiry would be "prejudiced" before it even began if Mr McGuinness chaired it.

Mr McGuinness had "disqualified himself" from being chair of any banking inquiry, Mr Nolan said.

"He speculated that he had made enemies with the civil service because of his book, that civil servants were out to get him possibly because of how he chairs the committee and he made a very serious allegation that a government department is leaking against him," he said on RTE's 'Morning Ireland'.

Mr McGuinness claims there is a "cabal of five civil servants who are trying to block or water down a banking inquiry".

Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton warned of the important role the committee holds being maintained.

She said the matters had to be resolved by the committee members themselves.

"We have to be conscious of the significance that the Constitution gives the Public Accounts Committee.

"It is the key constitutional committee in relation to the spending of money in Ireland," she said.

Mr Nolan's comment follows Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath expressing the belief that the banking inquiry will not go to the PAC.

But Mr McGrath said he did not believe which committee conducted the inquiry was the most important issue.

He said what mattered was what exactly would be examined by the inquiry.

"My view is it is unlikely the Government will give that body of work to that committee," he said at the weekend.

Irish Independent

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