Committee tensions grow as banking inquiry deadline nears

Members due to meet again today as Thursday deadline approaches

Sinn Féin spokesperson on finance Pearse Doherty. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin spokesperson on finance Pearse Doherty. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Tensions within the Oireachtas banking inquiry are growing as the deadline to complete its work nears.

Members met yesterday to examine the revised draft report but a number of the 11 TDs and Senators were absent for the meeting.

The committee has until Thursday to complete the final report and will meet again today to consider the amendments tabled by various members.

The members have not yet discussed the recommendations or conclusions which could be one of the key stumbling blocks.

A source said few from the original report were accepted because they were “too political”.

Members are frustrated that up to four of the committee were not present at yesterday’s meeting.

There was also some anger about comments made by Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty to the media.

Mr Doherty had told a Sunday newspaper the deadline to complete the report was impossible.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Mr Doherty said: “I said nothing to the media that I have not said to the members in private session.

“The deadline to complete the report is extremely tight.”

Mr Doherty said members should have availed of an additional week over the Christmas period.

This would have allowed the committee more time to compile and examine the report, the Sinn Féin TD said.

He said: “That train has left the station. We set ourselves different deadlines and we are now half way through that. I am not sure if it is possible to change that.”

There is growing speculation that Mr Doherty will not sign off on the final report. Socialist TD Joe Higgins has already confirmed he will not.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy and Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe have been working with three legal representatives and the assistants of Mr Doherty and Fianna Fáil spokesman Michael McGrath to complete a revised final report.

Mr Murphy said: “It has been a long and difficult week but we are making good progress. Every hour and day is crucial now.

“The coming week will no doubt be bumpy at times but there is a strong will here amongst the committee and the team to get a report published.

“We want to get this done and I hope we can. It will be less than perfect, it must follow the Act.”

The committee was forced to compile a ‘finalisation team’ after the original report was labelled fundamentally flawed and badly written by members.

The new report will have 11 chapters examining crucial pieces of evidence given before the inquiry.

It will also propose changes to the legislation governing the Act. Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said the Oireachtas inquiries legislation may be re-held.

Speaking on RTÉ, Ms Lynch indicated a repeat referendum could form part of the Labour Party’s manifesto.

However, Tánaiste Joan Burton said she would wait to read the banking inquiry’s final report before making any decision on the necessity of another vote.