Inquiry into banking inquiry

Wednesday’s hearings interrupted by private sessions to deal with whistleblower allegations relating to the inquiry’s investigations team

 Bertie Ahern: he wasn’t the only one giving colourful evidence this week. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

Bertie Ahern: he wasn’t the only one giving colourful evidence this week. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

 

It was an eventful week at the Oireachtas banking inquiry and it didn’t all revolve around Bertie Ahern’s colourful evidence.

Anglo Irish Bank’s ex-finance chief Willie McAteer became the fourth former executive at the failed institution to have his direction to appear withdrawn by the committee on instruction from the DPP.

Meanwhile, another former Anglo executive, Tom Browne, was threatened with a visit from gardaí for failing to provide a witness statement by the appointed deadline.

Late on Wednesday night, the inquiry quietly slipped out the second update on its activity and expenditure at the bottom of a press release about the appearance of Ahern and others on the following day.

This shows that the running costs of the inquiry from November 26th to the end of June amounted to €2.47 million.

Some 80 per cent of this amount relates to pay for its 51 staff. This includes €834,000 for its 20-person investigation team.

The inquiry also incurred €1.03 million in scoping and establishment costs, including €521,000 on IT systems and accommodation fit-out.

The hearings on Wednesday had been punctuated by a number of private sessions to deal with allegations from a whistleblower that relate to the inquiry’s investigations team.

The allegation is that preferential treatment was given to the Central Bank of Ireland and the Department of Finance by the investigations team, which is also being accused of leaks to a Sunday newspaper.

Chairman Ciarán Lynch (left) and a small number of other committee members were made aware of the allegations, which date back to April, early on, but the others only found out about them on Tuesday evening, when the whistleblower contacted them.

This led to some heated sessions with Senator Marc MacSharry of Fianna Fáil, in particular, airing his dissatisfaction at how the matter had been handled.

An inquiry into the inquiry is now set to be held with an external investigator to be appointed in the next week or so by the Houses of the Oireachtas service.

This bizarre turn of events only serves to feed the public’s perception that the inquiry is a waste of time and their taxes.

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