Government majority on banking inquiry in doubt

Seanad committee votes to place two Opposition Senators on long-awaited investigation

The Government’s majority on the banking inquiry is in doubt after a Seanad committee voted to place two Opposition Senators on the long-awaited investigation.

The Seanad Committee on Selection, which appoints members of the Upper House on committees, met last night to decide who to place on the banking inquiry.

It had been expected the two Seanad members to sit on the nine-member panel would be split between the Government and Opposition.

However, a number of Coalition members were missing from the committee and it voted to put Fianna Fáil's Marc McSharry and Independent Trinity Senator Sean Barrett on the banking inquiry.


There was some confusion last night as to how the selection committee decision can be overturned, but it is understood the Government will attempt to do so.

It is understood Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office instructed Coalition members to support Mr Barrett and Labour’s Susan O’Keeffe.

Mr Barrett was selected unanimously, while Mr MacSharry was accepted by five votes to three. Ms O’Keeffe was rejected by four votes to three.

Another Independent Senator, Paul Bradford - who lost the Fine Gael whip last year in the dispute over abortion legislation - voted for Mr Barrett, but then voted with the Fianna Fáil members for Mr McSharry.

Those missing from the selection committee meeting included Ms O'Keeffe herself, Labour senator Lorraine Higgins and Independent Jillian van Turnhout, who usually supports the Government.

The result, if it stands, means the nine-member banking inquiry will have only four Government members: chairman and Labour TD Ciarán Lynch and Fine Gael TDs Eoghan Murphy, Kieran O'Donnell and John Paul Phelan.

As well as Mr Barrett and Mr McSharry, the Opposition will be represented by Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath, Sinn Féin deputy Pearse Doherty and Independent TD Stephen Donnelly.

The selection committee’s report will now go before the Seanad.