Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Photocall Ireland
Banking Inquiry

The banking inquiry... who's going to carry it out?

Is there a turf war between the Public Accounts Committee and the Finance Committee on who’s going to do the digging? And what about revisiting the Oireachtas inquiries referendum?

MINISTER FOR PUBLIC Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said today that the government is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of the banking crisis in this country.

But who is going to carry out the inquiry?

Writing in today’s Sunday Independent John McGuinness of the Public Accounts Committee said that Howlin’s “move to push [the PAC] to one side on the banking inquiry should be viewed with suspicion”.

The Minister told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme that while the PAC has already “done a great deal of work” on the background to a banking inquiry, he had also had a submission from the Finance and Public Expenditure Committee, chaired by Howlin’s Labour colleage Alex White.

The PAC published a report last week on the crisis in the banking sector and outlined the questions that it feels need to be answered.

Writing today Fianna Fáil Deputy McGuinness said that there are concerns that the PAC is doing “too much digging, too much investigating, too much searching for the truth”. Minister Howlin said that he has an open mind on the inquiry that that it was “odd” to read some of the things McGuinness had said.

Howlin also said that he has an open mind on what is the most effective mechanism to get to the truth, and that he wanted to hear the views of both committees and of the broader Oireachtas.

Constraints of the constitution

Speaking about the No vote returned in the referendum on Oireachtas inquiries last October Howlin said that it was “unfortunate” that the public had made their own discernment on giving overarching powers of inquiry to the houses of the Oireachtas.

He said that the vote meant that a mechanism must now be constructed within the constraints of the constitution that will “fully ventilate all that happened surround probably the most impactive decision ever made by an Irish government”.

He said that the No vote reflected an element of distrust of politics and politicians in this country.

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes (FG) told that there may be a need to revisit the constitutional referendum question in order to give the banking inquiry the “relevant teeth that’s required”.

While Minister Howlin said today that he didn’t feel you can keep returning to referenda and that the No vote was the “reflective view of the people”, Hayes contradicted him and said that if parliament had the proper tools of investigation then there would be no need for tribunals of inquiry or committees of investigation:

The government is considering the matter at the moment and obviously will make a decision in due course.

– Additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell

Here are the questions that need to be asked about bank guarantee>

43 per cent of voters didn’t understand Oireachtas Inquiries referendum by polling day>

Public Accounts Committee plans probe into financial collapse>

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