Independent TD Mattie McGrath has stated that unless those currently nominated to conduct the proposed Banking Inquiry changes then it will be a futile and irrelevant process.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed to the Dáil that the inquiry should focus on the bank guarantee and events leading up to it, the role of banks and auditors, and the role of State institutions.
Mr Kenny said it was his earnest hope and expectation – and that of the Government – that the inquiry was conducted prudently and judiciously.
“The Taoiseach knows full well that this Inquiry will be nothing but a wasted opportunity if nothing changes. We simply cannot allow the scenario to develop where the whole process risks being dominated by political point scoring while the bankers sit back and watch this farce unfold.
“It has already been confirmed that according to a specific clause in the Oireachtas Inquiries Bill, members of the Dáil and Seanad will not be allowed to serve on a committee of inquiry where any “reasonable perception of bias” might arise.
“In the light of that reality not one of us will be eligible particularly those with the most expertise needed to interrogate the bankers, like Deputy Shane Ross for instance.
“It is ironic that this provision is there to ensure fairness for any banker who might come before the inquiry. I would remind the Taoiseach that in this kind of situation his priority should be about ensuring justice and fairness for the ordinary citizen and stop allowing these ridiculous provisions to exist which bankers can run and hide behind when the going gets tough,” he said.
The next step is the approval, expected next week, of the order to commence the new legislation. The matter will then go to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, which governs the work of parliament.
The inquiry will possibly be set up as a committee of the Oireachtas, but the Government’s large majority means it has the power to set the agenda:
“I would urge the people out there to see this inquiry as it is currently proposed for what it is; a political stunt to give the appearance of progress. What we need is the immediate recruitment of outside investigators and experts who have no vested political interest and who can carry out the inquiry in an objective and efficient manner.
“Ireland is just too small a country to risk an examination of the role of the banks or the State in the financial crisis without running the risk that that examination will be less than independent or as thorough as it needs to be.
“Without these changes I would be deeply concerned that more of the taxpayers money will be needlessly wasted on the conducting of an Inquiry the outcome of which will move us no closer to real accountability,” said Deputy McGrath.