Work under way on banking inquiry

Formal request by Government to Oireachtas for inquiry mandate expected after Easter

Labour TD for Cork South Central Ciarán Lynch is widely held to be the favourite to take charge of the Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crash.

Labour TD for Cork South Central Ciarán Lynch is widely held to be the favourite to take charge of the Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crash.

Fri, Apr 18, 2014, 01:00

Work is under way to quickly establish an Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crash following the conclusion of the Anglo trial, but public hearings are some time away.

The Government promised the long-awaited public inquiry many months ago, but preparations were delayed on foot of legal warnings against any action in the Oireachtas which could intrude on trial proceedings.

Although political talks continued in the background in Leinster House when the case was before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, this activity is now expected to speed up.

The next act in the preparation of the inquiry is for the Government to issue a formal request to the Houses of the Oireachtas on the mandate, timing and framework for the investigation.

“That will be done very quickly after Easter,” said a senior political source involved in talks behind the scenes.

Considerable work remains to be done in terms of collating information for the public phase of the inquiry and determining the extent of its work and the witnesses to be called. There is no early prospect of televised hearings with senior figures from the world of banking, politics and financial regulation who were involved in the near-collapse of the banking system and the political and official response to it.

Such hearings could be several months away, according to political sources.

At the same time, those involved in the discussions are conscious of the possibility of appeals against the convictions handed down yesterday. It remains unclear as to whether any appeals would delay the inquiry.

Initial decision
Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus is understood to have made contact with the Government last autumn in the run-up to its initial decision to give the go-ahead for a parliamentary inquiry.

The plan at that point was for the inquiry to begin its work imminently, but Ms Loftus was said to have told Ministers they “should be aware of the potential to jeopardise the trials”. The result was that the inquiry was delayed.

It falls to TDs and Senators to decide on the scope of the inquiry. In political circles the expectation remains that this task will be handed to the Oireachtas finance committee, which may establish a special subcommittee to carry out the inquiry.

Finance committee chairman Ciarán Lynch, a Labour TD for Cork South Central, is widely held to be the favourite to take charge of the inquiry.