INDEPENDENT TD STEPHEN Donnelly is to withdraw from the Oireachtas banking inquiry saying that the Taoiseach has “explicitly stated that he will attempt to control the inquiry”.
Writing in the Sunday Independent today, the Wicklow and East Carlow. TD today said that Enda Kenny told the Dáil on Tuesday that the reason he was seeking a Government majority on the committee was to ensure that:
The Government could set the terms of reference, pass the final report, and ensure they would know what the members of the banking inquiry would do.
The Government had lost its majority on the inquiry when two Labour Senators did not attend a crucial vote of the Seanad selection committee and Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry was added to the committee instead.
After trying and failing to remove MacSharry, the Government added two more Senators to ensure a 6-5 majority on the inquiry.
Donnelly says that this demonstrated that the Government have sought to control an inquiry that was not theirs to influence.
“First, the banking inquiry is, under law, an Oireachtas Inquiry, not a Cabinet Inquiry,” he wrote.
In the Dáil on Thursday, Donnelly said he was considering withdrawing from the inquiry, he told RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show this morning that he he took his final decision on Friday.
He added that, although it was originally planned for a Government majority on the inquiry, the ”unintended composition of the Committee would have been trusted far more by the public than one with a Government majority.”
Speaking on RTÉ alongside Donnelly, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said that “it was always the case the Oireachtas inquiry was intended to reflect the composition of the Oireachtas.
“Essentially what happened is that Fianna Fáil had taken advantage of the situation and taken both of the seats. Imagine if that had happened the other way round,” he said.