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Government set to overturn rejection of Labour senator from banking inquiry

Independent senator Seán Barrett and Fianna Fáil’s Marc Mac Sharry were both recommended to sit on the inquiry meaning the government lost its majority.

Image: Brian Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 9.30am 

THE GOVERNMENT WILL move to reinstate a Labour senator to the forthcoming banking inquiry in the Seanad this morning.

Labour senator and former journalist Susan O’Keeffe was rejected for a seat on the inquiry when the Seanad Committee on Selection met last evening.

Independent senator and Trinity economist Seán Barrett and Fianna Fáil’s Marc Mac Sharry were both recommended to sit on the inquiry which will be made up of seven TDs and two senators.

However the addition of MacSharry means the government lost its majority after O’Keeffe was rejected by four votes to three with one abstention. A number of government senators were absent for the vote including O’Keeffe herself and her Labour colleague Lorraine Higgins.

The recommendations from last night’s vote will now be brought to the Seanad which can then accept, reject or amend it. It is expected that the government will force the removal of MacSharry and the addition of O’Keeffe using its slim majority in the upper house during the Order of Business this morning.

Labour senators John Whelan, Denis Landy and John Kelly, who have previously missed crucial Seanad votes that the government has lost, are likely to support the nomination of O’Keeffe.

Last night, Fianna Fáil Seanad Leader Darragh O’Brien welcomed the decision by the commmittee to nominate Marc Mac Sharry and Seán Barrett.

He said he had “no doubt that both Senators will make valuable and worthwhile contributions to what I hope is a fair and objective inquiry”.

“I now expect the Government to approve the selections of the Seanad committee and proceed with plans for the banking inquiry that should seek to establish the full truth of the banking crisis in the country,” he added.

The seven TDs that will sit on the inquiry are its chair Labour’s Ciaran Lynch, and Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell, Eoghan Murphy and John Paul Phelan. Opposition members include independent Stephen Donnelly, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

Read: Enda Kenny has ‘no responsibility’ to tell TDs what he thinks of Trichet’s banking inquiry snub>

Read: TDs decide not to put Peter Mathews on the banking inquiry>

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