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Donnelly will rejoin banking inquiry if additional Senators step back

The government attempted to regain a majority by adding two more Senators to the inquiry – a move which the independent TD said “crossed a line”.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 9pm

INDEPENDENT TD STEPHEN Donnelly has said he would only consider returning to the banking inquiry if the government abandons its attempt to regain a majority.

The deputy announced his resignation yesterday after the Taoiseach’s move to add two more Senators – a decision Donnelly said “crossed a line”.

The Irish Independent reported today that Enda Kenny appealed to the independent TD to rejoin the inquiry.

However in a statement this evening, Donnelly said the inquiry has been critically undermined by the Taoiseach’s move to “force a majority, control the terms of reference and ensure he knows what the inquiry members would do”.

The minimum required to restore public trust is for the additional Senators to step back from the inquiry. Were this to happen, together with the whip remaining removed, the Inquiry Committee would be able to act in an independent and unbiased way. In this case, I would be happy to rejoin the inquiry.

Donnelly added that restoring public trust is “more important than any Oireachtas member serving on the inquiry”.

Party whips

Speaking to TheJournal.ie last night, he had stressed that the public needs to have faith in the inquiry, and said that while he had great respect for the rest of the committee, he could not envisage himself ever taking up his seat again, despite the government’s decision not to use party whips:

It’s essentially like bringing a gun to the table and saying you’re not going to use it. Everyone is still acutely aware that it’s still there.

In light of the recent controversies, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty wrote to Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe and Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy yesterday urging them to follow Donnelly’s lead and quit.

“The unfortunate comments by An Taoiseach last week means the nomination of Senator O’Keeffe and Senator D’Arcy has become associated with the government insisting on its way for the proceedings,” he said in a statement last night.

The work of the banking inquiry has already been undermined and it is important for this to be rectified.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday, former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Alan Dukes, also a former finance minister, said Donnelly was “being a bit precious”.

Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar said that “it was always the case the Oireachtas inquiry was intended to reflect the composition of the Oireachtas”.

First published 6.15am

- Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Whips will not be imposed on Fine Gael and Labour members of banking inquiry >

More: Boyd-Barrett will not take spare seat on banking inquiry >

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Nicky Ryan

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