Thursday 22 February 2018

Banking inquiry hit by gender dispute

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch will head up the banking inquiry, but there are concerns that it appears the inquiry team will have only one female member.
Labour TD Ciaran Lynch will head up the banking inquiry, but there are concerns that it appears the inquiry team will have only one female member.

Daniel McConnell and Fionnan Sheahan

THE pending Oireachtas banking inquiry has already become embroiled in a gender imbalance row because of a lack of female politicians on the committee.

The nine-person committee looks set to only have one female representative, as confirmation of party nominees emerged last night.

A motion formally establishing the investigation into the collapse of the Irish banking system, which cost the taxpayer €64bn, is due to be debated in the Dail next week, having been delayed by the resignation of Alan Shatter.

Fine Gael has proposed Dublin South East TD Eoghan Murphy and Limerick TD Kieran O'Donnell who were earlier this week asked by Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe to participate in the inquiry, along with Carlow-Kilkenny deputy John-Paul Phelan, who serves on the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

Both Mr O'Donnell and Mr Murphy would be forced to relinquish their roles on the high-profile PAC in order to be part of the investigation team, with Mr Phelan also likely to give up his role on the justice committee.

However, sources close to the inquiry have expressed concern that at best there will only be one female politician.

The identity of the Labour parliamentary party member who will join inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch on the committee is still being determined.

It is known that its second nominee will come from the Seanad, and it is expected that senator Ivana Bacik will get the nod.

However, other names mentioned include the party's Seanad whip Aideen Hayden, the party's Seanad finance spokesman John Gilroy and former journalist Susan O'Keeffe.

The identities of the opposition Dail members have already been made known. Fianna Fail is nominating its party finance spokesperson Michael McGrath and Sinn Fein has also chosen its finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty.

The Technical Group has nominated Independent TD Stephen Donnelly to be its member, with Richard Boyd-Barrett and Socialist TD Joe Higgins also having expressed an interest at a meeting of the grouping earlier this week.

However, a row is brewing among the opposition parties and independents in the Seanad as to who their nominee will be.

The Independents and Sinn Fein have called for Trinity Economics Professor Sean Barrett to sit on the inquiry, while Fianna Fail is insisting the nominee should come from within its ranks. It is now set to be debated by TDs next Wednesday before it goes to the Seanad.

Irish Independent

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