Banking inquiry owes it to people to publish report - Burton

Tánaiste confident banking inquiry will agree finalised report for January deadline

The members of the Oireachtas banking inquiry owe it to themselves and the people of Ireland to publish a report on their investigation before the January 20th deadline, Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton has said.

Ms Burton said she was confident the inquiry under the chairmanship of Cork South Central Labour TD Ciaran Lynch would be able to publish its report following an emergency meeting of the committee on Sunday to try to agree a finalised report.

According to a report in Sunday's Sunday Times, banking inquiry member and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said the inquiry's report could not be salvaged as it is "unamendable" and it was extremely unlikely he would be able to sign off on the final report.

Draft report

It's understood the 11 members of the banking inquiry have tabled more than 1,000 amendments to the 750-page draft report drawn up by the inquiry, and Labour Senator Susan O'Keeffe and Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy have been asked to lead "a finalisation team".

But speaking in Cork on Sunday, Ms Burton said she was confident agreement could be reached on a finalised version of the report in time for the January 20th deadline, and she was confident Mr Higgins would join his fellow inquiry committee members in signing off on the report.

“My understanding is that there is now a 750-page draft report and I emphasise draft report - I understand also that there have been up to 1,000 recommended changes or submissions in respect of that by members of the inquiry committee, and clearly that is a lot of material to deal with.

“I am happy the committee had a meeting yesterday under the chairmanship of Ciaran Lynch - he has been very clear there is now a process in place where over the next few weeks people can put forward proposals they have in relation to amendments or changes or omissions from the draft.”

‘Months and months’

Ms Burton said she hoped all Deputies and Senators on the committee co-operate with that process, given that they had spent "months and months, two floors down in the bowels of Leinster House" and would want the people of Ireland to see their conclusions.

“The members have devoted a huge amount of time, the chairman, Ciaran Lynch has worked very hard to be really fair to all of the witnesses, and I think it would be in everybody’s interest if we can get that report before the general election - and they have a timeline of the third week of January.

“They owe it to themselves but they also owe it to the people of Ireland and I think they are all very conscious of their responsibility in that regard and I do think we deserved to see it published to give people answers to how the banking collapse happened and how the bank guarantee came about.

“I would be very confident that Deputy Higgins will be of the same view as the other members of the committee in that respect,” said Ms Burton, adding that in the final analysis it would be a matter for every member of the committee to decide whether they want to be part of the majority report.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times