Labour Senator backs FF call for Seanad inclusion in banking inquiry

Exclusion would be ‘absurd’

A Government Senator has said it would be “absurd’’ to exclude Seanad representation from the banking inquiry.

John Whelan (Lab) supported a call by Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O'Brien to have Senators as well as TDs involved in the inquiry which is expected to get under way later this year. "The finance spokespeople in the Seanad, and others who have expertise in that area, should be included in any newly constituted committee to inquire into the banking fiasco,'' said Mr Whelan.

Mr O'Brien said it appeared that members of the House were to be excluded from the inquiry.

"The Government and the Taoiseach hold this House in contempt, as does the Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe, something that has been proved over the past two years,'' he added.


“I remind the Government Chief Whip that the people voted to retain this House, in whatever form, in the recent referendum, and we have discussed reform.’’

Sean Barrett (Ind) said that one of the key elements of the inquiry's standing orders was that no committee member should have made any public comment about the banking crisis that could be regarded as biased.

"Is it a requirement that all members of the Oireachtas should have been dumb when €64 billion walked out of the country's exchequer?'' Mr Barrett added. "Would we require that somebody investigating the Great Depression in the United States should not have even known it happened ?''

Mr Barrett said people had read dozens of books and thousands of articles about the affair. “It would be a bad sign if people who had said nothing about the banking crisis were put on the committee,’’ he said.

'Robinson Crusoe'
"I do not know what the legal advice has in mind . . . perhaps Senator Robinson Crusoe and Deputy Man Friday on some desert island who, coming to the topic of the collapse of the Irish economy without knowing anything about it, would be suitable to serve on the committee.''

Marc MacSharry (FF) said he agreed. “I would say that legal advice is coming from one of those big firms – we all know their names – between the two canals here in Dublin,’’ he added. “They were responsible for all the legal advice that got us into the crisis and it now seems they will be responsible for all the legal advice on examining their own poor legal advice back in the day.’’

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times