Banking inquiry: Fears mount work on verge of collapse

Committee to hold emergency meeting amid concerns draft report flawed by ‘huge gaps’

Banking inquiry: Over 1,000 amendments tabled for report described as “fundamentally flawed”. Photograph: The Irish Times

Banking inquiry: Over 1,000 amendments tabled for report described as “fundamentally flawed”. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

The Oireachtas banking inquiry members are to hold an emergency meeting today amid fears that the work of the committee is on the verge of collapse.

The 11 members are deeply unhappy with the draft final report of the inquiry drawn up by its staff and have tabled more than 1,000 amendments.

The TDs and Senators will meet to decide whether the report, which was written by the investigation team working with the committee, can be saved within the allocated time frame. The inquiry has until January 20th to produce a final report. It will collapse if it has not completed its work before a general election is called early next year.

Members have warned the report will still not be satisfactory, even if all the amendments are accepted. They have described it as “not fit for purpose”.

One TD told The Irish Times: “The meeting is crucial. If we don’t come up with a solution at the meeting there won’t be enough time to fix it, and none of us will sign off on that report as it stands.

“It is fundamentally flawed; it has huge gaps and is not fit for purpose. If we cannot agree a way forward, none of us will sign off on that report and the whole thing collapses.”

The options available to members are limited. They can seek to make a series of amendments to the report or try to write a new one.

Second version

One proposal to be considered at today’s meeting is simply to publish the transcripts contained in the report and allow the members to write their own recommendations and conclusions.

One member said: “I don’t hold out a huge amount of hope. We don’t want it to collapse. Everyone is working to ensure it doesn’t happen, but it is looking more likely.”

Hundreds more amendments are expected to be tabled. The majority of the members of the inquiry will have to agree to changes before they can be accepted.

When it is agreed, the report will be distributed to anyone referenced in it and each of them will be asked to give their views on its contents. They will have 14 days to respond.

Election rush

The report has been split into three modules and runs to 750 pages. It is understood that up to 40 recommendations have been made, including making advice a future minister for finance gives to the cabinet accessible through Freedom of Information legislation.

The Irish Times understands that the report is highly critical of both the financial regulator and the European Central Bank.

The banking inquiry has cost €€4.9 million to date. Of this, €642,856 was spent on salary for inquiry investigators.