Banking inquiry details released

There will be three public hearings a week when the banking inquiry — which is expected to last for three months — begins next February.

Court challenges against the inquiry are expected and witnesses will be allowed respond to the final report before it is published, according to confidential documents obtained by the Irish Examiner.

The Oireachtas has advertised to hire a team of lawyers for the inquiry.

Documents released to lawyers under confidential agreement last week reveal specific details around the plan for the inquiry.

These include:

-Public hearings conducted over 12 weeks, with around three hearings a week;

-The inquiry will last 18 months and public hearings are expected to begin next February/March;

-Challenges and litigation “may run concurrently” to the inquiry’s work;

-Lawyers will be paid an hourly rate but “discounts” will apply after a minimum period of work;

-“Potentially affected persons” will be granted a response to a draft copy of the final report.

The Oireachtas has decided to limit its panel of lawyers to very senior people. Applicants will have to have 12 years qualification as a junior counsel and 15 years as a senior in order to even qualify for consideration.

Legal sources suggested this could significantly increase costs for the investigation.

The hired lawyers will advise the committee about its questioning, help iron out any issue of bias of members, give opinions on press releases and inform witnesses of their rights.

The documents outline a plan of how the inquiry will proceed. Once its terms, staffing and accommodation are arranged, the committee will begin looking at evidence gathering. This will be analysed and an expert group will report back to TDs and senators on the inquiry with results. Following this, hearings will be outlined and witnesses informed of when they should appear, with up to three sittings in front of the public a week over three months.

Meanwhile, the Oireachtas Committee overseeing the inquiry will receive advice this week about the timeline, scope and terms of the inquiry. Chairman Ciaran Lynch said the experts’ advice to the committee on Wednesday would help inform recommendations on the terms that the members will suggest by September.


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