TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has said that the banking inquiry will be held to ensure the "mistakes of the past" are not repeated.
New legislation has been published which will allow for a Dail committee to carry out the investigation into the banking crash that has cost taxpayers €64bn. It will have powers to call witnesses and make findings about the system – but not individuals.
Mr Varadkar said the inquiry was necessary to learn from the mistakes of the past. "The best way we do that is to carry out an inquiry and understand what policy measures were wrong and to make sure that my generation of politicians and those who follow us don't make the same mistakes again," he said.
The Irish Independent revealed details of the new inquiries bill yesterday. Witnesses at the inquiry will be allowed to hire lawyers at their own expense – but will only get their costs covered if their "good name" is at risk. The new bill is expected to be passed into law before the Dail takes its summer break at the end of July.
It will then be up to the Government to decide whether the banking inquiry will be carried out by the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or the Oireachtas Finance Committee. Leinster House sources are suggesting that the Government will not give it to the PAC – because it is chaired by Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, who would have to call former Fianna Fail ministers as witnesses.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has strongly backed the plan to have a Dail committee carry out the inquiry instead of an expensive tribunal.
"Parliamentary inquiries under this legislation can be cost-effective, efficient and resilient to any legal challenge providing they have focused terms of reference and comply strictly with fair procedures," he said.