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Rescued: The banking inquiry will now write a much shorter report

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the committee was attempting a “rescue operation”.

Updated 6.33pm 

A CRUNCH MEETING of the banking inquiry has agreed a new timeline to salvage a final report which is likely to be significantly shorter than the original draft.

The Oireachtas committee this evening agreed to a new deadline for its report which will be formally adopted by the committee on Thursday week before final publication on 20 January.

The document is likely to be around 11 chapters and between 250 and 300 pages – much shorter than the 750-page draft that has been widely panned by members.

The report will only deal with new material that emerged during the course of the hearings and not the context or background to the crash. It will focus on the behaviour of the banks prior to the bank guarantee in 2008 and the Troika bailout in 2010.

The inquiry has just over a week left to produce a document to distribute to those mentioned in it before the report can be finalised and published in January.

8/7/2015 Banking Inquiries Banking inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch Source: Leah Farrell

Committee chairman Ciaran Lynch told RTÉ’s Six One News said there was “a great sense of unity and purpose” among inquiry members to publish a final report.

A statement said the committee had agreed the proposed framework and structure to advance the report to its conclusion:

This revised framework requires some adaptions within the programme schedule but this will not impact on the report’s agreed deadline.

No plan B

Sinn Féin TD and committee member Pearse Doherty told reporters before this evening’s meeting that the report will not be entirely satisfactory:

It won’t be as detailed, it won’t cover as many bases as what we would have intended to and the real problem here is time.

He said there was “no Plan B” and described this evening’s meeting as “a rescue operation”. Earlier, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson and committee member Micheal McGrath said he was not countenancing failure, insisting the report could be salvaged.

The 11-member Oireachtas committee met over the weekend and could now be working through Christmas in a bid to produce some form of final document.

This follows the decision to discard a significant amount of a 750-page draft report produced by the inquiry’s investigation team. The draft report was widely criticised by members who said it was poorly written, incoherent, had major gaps and required substantial rewriting.

A finalisation team headed by two inquiry members, Eoghan Murphy and Susan O’Keeffe, has developed a plan to progress matters. This will involve a revised report that will draw on members’ submissions and elements of the original draft.

“Some will be salvaged and some will be repackaged,” a well-placed committee source said earlier, admitting it was 50/50 as to whether there would be a final report at all.

Who is to blame?

10/6/2015. Dail Scenes Pearse Doherty Source: Sam Boal

Doherty said the committee hopes to produce a document it has confidence in, but admitted:

The question is would it be the report that we would have wanted to produce when we started this process? And, hand on heart, I don’t think that’s going to be possible at this point in time given the time restrictions.

He said it would be a report “that we could live with” and not the report “we all expected”.

Asked who was to blame for the crisis in the inquiry, Doherty said he did not blame anybody but added:

The key thing here is there was a major disconnect between the expectations of the members and the investigation team. The focus and the priority that we placed on certain evidence wasn’t the same priority that was placed on evidence by the investigators.

Read: The banking inquiry is in a real mess right now

Read: One simple thing could make the entire banking inquiry null and void

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Hugh O'Connell

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