Banking inquiry to discuss extension to report deadline

Chairman Ciarán Lynch says he is disappointed at ECB’s refusal to give evidence

The decision by the ECB not to co-operate with the banking inquiry has been criticised by the committee chairman. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The decision by the ECB not to co-operate with the banking inquiry has been criticised by the committee chairman. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


The Dáil’s banking inquiry will discuss an extension to its November 30th deadline to produce its report due to delays caused by the investigation of allegations by a whistleblower.

Speaking on Monday inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch said the investigation by senior counsel Senan Allen into the allegations - which were found to be groundless - had delayed the inquiry’s work.

The final report of the inquiry has to agreed before the Dáil - and the inquiry committee - can be dissolved. If the Dáil is dissolved before the inquiry’s report is complete then its work is rendered void.

Mr Lynch the impact of the delays was being audited and that an extension to the conclusion date may be sought. He also said Mr Allen’s report would be published.

Mr Lynch also said he was disappointed by the refusal of the European Central Bank to co-operate with the Dáil’s banking inquiry.

The committee received correspondence from the ECB last week confirming that it was declining to participate in its work.

Mr Lynch said the position of the ECB seemed to have hardened over the summer and it had written to the inquiry to state it was not accountable to national parliaments and therefore unable to assist the inquiry.

“The response from them is disappointing given that we made every effort to accommodate the ECB,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

ECB vice-president Vítor Constâncio had offered to attend to provide an “informal exchange of views” with the inquiry regarding the banking crash.

The ECB resolved in February to allow Mr Constâncio to make an Oireachtas committee appearance but only if it took place outside the inquiry process.

It was due to take place in the Dáil’s finance committee but that has now been ruled out.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath questioned whether the ECB had any intention of appearing.

“The ECB’s decision not to co-operate with the inquiry shows their contempt for the principle of accountability and undoubtedly results in a deficit in the work of the inquiry.

“The committee now will have no option but to reach conclusions on issues relating to the role of the ECB in the crisis without hearing any evidence from them.

“Looking back, I don’t believe the ECB ever had any intention of coming before the inquiry and the very limited engagement we had with Mr Trichet was done on his terms.”

The inquiry’s public hearings will come to a conclusion this week. Former International Monetary Fund official Ajai Chopra, who was responsible for the design and monitoring of Ireland’s financial bailout programme, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan are due to attend.

Alan Ahearne, special advisor to the late minister of finance Brian Lenihan, and Alan Gray, relating to his roles as an advisor to former taoiseach Brian Cowen, are also scheduled this week.