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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 21 January, 2020
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Is the public watching €5 million slowly swirl down the drain?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

Updated 1.02pm

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Everyone’s talking about…

The banking inquiry appearing to be on the verge of collapse.

original (1) Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan during his appearance at the banking inquiry.

Since the middle of last year, the 11-strong banking inquiry has been tasked with finding out how it all went so very wrong for the country in 2008, but now it seems to have gone fairly pear-shaped for themselves.

The committee will meet again this afternoon after crisis talks at the weekend in a bid to save the committee’s final report, which some members believe was poorly written, incoherent, had major gaps and required substantial rewriting.

The general consensus today is that it cannot be saved, meaning that the €5 million spent on the committee will go to waste, something that will hang over the coalition’s head going into the election.

There’s talk of members walking away from the process completely as frustration continues over the report.

That said, there is still time. One member described as central to salvaging the report told the Irish Examiner that the deadline could be pushed out by a few days, allowing work to continue over the Christmas break.

This could mean that witnesses – who have a right of reply – will have issues contacting their legal teams

Even Minister Brendan Howlin entertained the idea that the committee will be unable to form a final report.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, he said the millions spent will not have been wasted, although he hopes the committee’s members can come to a consensus.

“We’ve already learned a lot,” he said.

I believe that still the work of the banking inquiry has been valuable because we have a lot of testimony that, over time, will add significantly to the sum of knowledge.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson, and banking inquiry committee member, Michael McGrath also had a positive view of the situation, although highlighted a number of constraints facing the committee, such as having to finalise the report before the general election is called and the inability to make findings of fact if the evidence is contradicted.

McGrath said a lot of work is being done in the background today, and a further update will be given this evening.

He added:

I believe we owe it to all of those who suffered from the fallout from the banking crisis to conclude our work and publish a final report.

The agenda

  • The Dáil kicks off with questions for the Minister for Defence at 2pm, sure to feature concerns following on from attacks in Paris.
  • Next up is Leaders’ Questions at 3.15pm.
  • Fianna Fáil have a Private Members Bill on credit unions at 8.30pm.
  • The Seanad starts at 2.30pm. with Order of Business at 3.30pm.
  • Fempi legislation will be scrutinised 4.45pm.
  • The Seanad will also have the final stages of a bill detailing rent certainty at 6.15pm.
  • The Agriculture Committee will take a look at the dairy industry at 2pm.
  • The embattled banking inquiry will meet in private at 4pm.

Inside Leinster House

It really is looking grim for the banking inquiry, with one source saying:

I’d say it’s more likely there won’t be a report than there will be one.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Times reports that former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry has lodged High Court proceedings against the State, claiming that the Moriarty Tribunal breached his human rights, and INM, over the publication of the Lowry Tapes in 2013.
  • Minister Michael Noonan refused to answer questions on whether a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment will be held, the Irish Independent reports, and quotes a Fine Gael strategist explaining that their exact view on it for the election hasn’t been finalised.
  • Cork councillors are calling on Jerry Buttimer TD to apologise for criticising the council for not accepting millions in housing funds. A council official is quoted by the Irish Examiner as saying it would have been impossible to use the funding in the time allotted.
  • The government’s response to the recent terror threat facing Europe has been “less than sure-footed”, Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins told The Times (Ireland Edition).

In case you missed it

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Good day for…

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald received quite the grilling on RTÉ’s News at One yesterday over the government’s response to the rising terror threat, but today sees coverage in both The Irish Times and the Irish Independent of recent anti-terror training for gardaí.

Bad day for…

Chair of the banking inquiry Ciaran Lynch. Will he be able to get things over the line?

On the Twitter machine

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan appears to have enjoyed U2 last night.

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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