Calls for Oireachtas inquiries Act to be radically amended

Marc MacSharry and Joe Higgins say no future inquiry should be conducted under current legislation

Two members of the Oireachtas banking inquiry have insisted no future inquiry should be conducted under the current legislation.

Two members of the Oireachtas banking inquiry have insisted no future inquiry should be conducted under the current legislation.

 

Two members of the Oireachtas banking inquiry have insisted no future inquiry should be conducted under the current legislation.

Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry and Socialist TD Joe Higgins have called for the Oireachtas inquiries Act to be radically amended.

Mr MacSharry said the legislation was too restrictive and impeded the work of the committee.

He told The Irish Times: “No inquiry should ever take place under the current Act again.

“The report with all its flaws constitutes ‘an account of the evidence from the public hearings and written testimony’.

“I’ll probably sign but that’s just in terms of signing a body of work. Nobody could be entirely happy with it. I am certainly not.”

Mr Higgins, who has confirmed he will not sign off on the report, has said the Act became more absurd as the inquiry progressed.

He said it was his belief the legislation should be radically amended to avoid repeating the same failures.

The Socialist TD insisted the inquiry was worthwhile because the general public had an opportunity to hear from the people involved in the economic crash.

Mr Higgins also confirmed he would publish analysis and conclusions from his own perspective after the report itself was published in January.

A referendum was held in October 2011 to give more power to politicians to conduct formal inquiries but was defeated.

The Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act was then proposed by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

The legislation allows for committees to compel witnesses but insists no findings of fact can be made against a person.

The banking inquiry was established in November 2014 after the passing of the Act.

Fianna Fáil had proposed the establishment of an independent committee set up outside the Oireachtas to examine the banking crash.

Sinn Fein objected to the timing of the committee due to its proximity to the general election.

The Government rejected both the criticisms and insisted it wanted to avoid a repeat of previous tribunals which had taken years to complete and cost millions of euro.

The banking inquiry has cost €5 million to date. Its report is due for publication on January 27th.

It is expected to make formal proposals to change the legislation.