Banking Inquiry costs reach almost €4.9m by end of June

Publication of report not certain as inquiry to be set aside if November general election called

 Chair of the Banking Inquiry, Ciaran Lynch TD, at Leinster House, Dublin, in early October 2015. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Chair of the Banking Inquiry, Ciaran Lynch TD, at Leinster House, Dublin, in early October 2015. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Costs associated with the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry totalled just under €4.9 million by the end of June, according to the latest update from the committee.

This comprised €1.06 million in scoping and establishment costs between May and November 2014, and €3.87 million in running costs from November 26th 2014 to the end of June.

The inquiry, chaired by Ciarán Lynch of the Labour Party, was this week granted an extension to the end of January by the Dáil to complete and publish its report.

It had originally been expected to publish by the end of November but its work was interrupted by allegations from a whistleblower, which, in turn, led to a review being carried out for the Houses of the Oireachtas service by senior counsel Senan Allen.

The delay is expected to add about 10 per cent, or €500,000, to the final bill for the runnings costs of the inquiry.

Not certain

It is not even certain if the 11-person committee will get to publish a report, as the inquiry will be set aside if a general election is called in November, as many commentators now expect.

In terms of running costs to the end of June, some €3.1 million was spent on staffing, €382,000 on external services including legal support, €296,000 on public hearing costs, €11,000 on witness expenses, and €40,000 on miscellaneous items. Some 81 per cent of these costs relate to pay.

In the scoping and establishment phase, €466,000 was spent on staffing and recruitment, €365,000, on IT systems, €56,000 on external legal advice and €174,000 on the fit-out of accommodation.

The update shows that staffing numbers reduced to 45 at the end of September, from 51 at the end of June.

Of the support staff, 20 are involved in secretariat and administration, 20 in its investigations team and five in legal roles.

There were 24 civil servants on fixed-term contracts working for the inquiry and 21 civil service staff, of whom 17 were employed by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and four were seconded from other departments.

The inquiry began its public hearings in December of last year with the so-called context phase, which set the scene for the background to the banking crisis.

The nexus part of its work began in April and ran through until mid-September. This involved 97 witnesses and written statements from 42 individuals.