Friday 24 November 2017

Stephen Donnelly: Why I will not take part in this Banking Inquiry

Stephen Donnelly on why he is withdrawing from the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry that has been taken over by the Cabinet

Anglo Irish Bank
Anglo Irish Bank
HANDS ON LEVERS OF POWER: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ended any hope of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry working free of Cabinet control. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins

Stephen Donnelly

On Tuesday morning, the Taoiseach ended any hope of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry working free of Cabinet control. In an extraordinary statement on the floor of the House, he admitted the Government majority, being railroaded through, was so the Government could set the terms of reference, pass the final report, and ensure they would know what the members of the Banking Inquiry would do.

The Government plan to have a five-four majority on the Inquiry failed last week, when Labour senators didn't turn up for their own selection meeting. Due to Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry being nominated instead of Labour Senator Susan O'Keeffe, the nine person committee was now three Fine Gael, one Labour, two Fianna Fail, two Independent and one Sinn Fein. The Government held four of the nine seats.

It should have been left like this, for two reasons. First, the Banking Inquiry is, under law, an Oireachtas Inquiry, not a Cabinet Inquiry. The rules of the Oireachtas were properly followed in voting through all nine members. The Labour senators didn't show up to vote, so they lost the vote – tough luck. But the Cabinet decided it didn't like the outcome of the Oireachtas vote, so it reached in and changed it. What, then, is the point of having an Oireachtas?

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