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Bank Inquiry squabble over speaking time

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Ciaran Lynch

Ciaran Lynch

Ciaran Lynch

Members of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry have locked horns over the order in which they get to speak when public hearings begin next week.

At a series of private meetings in recent days, three separate proposals for speaking rights had to be abandoned amid clashes between the 11 members of the inquiry.

Both anticipation and tension is mounting in political circles ahead of the €5m inquiry which gets underway next Wednesday.

REJECTED

The Herald has confirmed from three members of the inquiry that an initial proposal from chairman Ciaran Lynch (Lab) that he would take an opening slot of 15 minutes at the beginning of each hearing was rejected.

Mr Lynch said, as chairman, he must retain a right to intervene at times and he reserved the right to do so.

Ultimately, as a means of ending the dispute, the members of the inquiry decided to draw names out of a hat in order to decide the order in which they will speak.

It is understood that Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty and Fine Gael's Eoghan Murphy will be the first lead speakers in the inquiry's first public hearing, when it hears from Finnish academic Peter Nyberg, who produced one of four reports into the banking crash in 2011.

Under the agreed system, Mr Doherty and Mr Murphy will then be excluded from selection of speakers until all members have had their chance to lead the questioning in public.

There was some concern expressed after it emerged the top four investigators working on the banking inquiry will be paid €566,119 over 12 months.

Peter Rossiter, a former chief risk officer with Anglo Irish Bank has been appointed as senior investigator on an interim basis until mid-January 2015. The position, when filled, will attract an annual salary of €172,710.

Investigators

The inquiry has also appointed two lead investigators - Helen Bunbury and Pat McLoughlin - on an annual salary of €131,373 each.

A lead investigator for commercial banking has yet to be named.

There have been repeated concerns expressed by members of the inquiry as to its expected costs, which have been estimated at €5m.

The inquiry is made up of Mr Lynch, Mr Doherty, Mr Murphy, Kieran O'Donnell and John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael), Joe Higgins (Socialist), Michael McGrath (Fianna Fail) and senators Sean Barrett (Independent), Mark MacSharry (Fianna Fail), Susan O'Keeffe (Labour) and Michael D'Arcy (Fine Gael).

hnews@herald.ie


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