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TDs want more power to probe bank crisis

THE Government is planning a referendum on the same day as the presidential election to give TDs the power to make witnesses appear before committees.

The Coalition intends to pass the findings of the latest banking crisis report on to an Oireachtas committee.

But the Government will have to amend the Constitution in order to give Dail committees full powers of investigation and reverse the effect of the Abbeylara judgment.

The Abbeylara Supreme Court decision limited the ability of Dail committees to hold investigations and compel witnesses to appear before them for questioning.

The presidential election has to be held no later than November 10.


The Government is expected to hold a number of referenda on that day, including a change which would allow judges' salaries to be cut.

Assuming the referendum does go ahead with the presidential election, it will have taken a decade to address an issue hanging over inquiries.

In November 2001, 36 gardai won a challenge to the Oireachtas sub-committee inquiry into the shooting dead of John Carthy in Abbeylara, Co Longford.

The 95-page judgment found that such inquiries did not have the power to make findings of fact or expressions of opinion adverse to the good name or reputation of citizens.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government wanted TDs to be able to investigate the facts of what happened in cases arising from the banking reports.

"However, the clarity of the advice given to the Government by the Attorney General means I have no intention of going down a road in which the Oireachtas literally would be laughed out of court by attempting to pursue something that it cannot do because of the inadequacy of its powers.

"This has been pointed out clearly by the Attorney General. Consequently, the Government decided this morning that a referendum should be held to deal with the consequences of the Abbeylara case," he said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the Nyberg Commission's report would be referred to the Oireachtas "for effective consideration", so it can make recommendations for the future of the banking sector.

But he said the failures of the previous Government to address the Abbeylara judgment meant it was not possible for the Oireachtas "to effectively fulfil this important oversight role".

Irish Independent