The banking inquiry is facing a fresh legal challenge from developers in the coming days which could lead to its collapse unless key changes are made to its long-awaited final report.
The cross-party group will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the latest hurdle in its way, after developers Johnny Ronan and Michael O’Flynn both issued fresh threats of legal action against it.
Under the existing timeline, the inquiry has until January 28 to be published.
The final report of the inquiry was sent out to interested parties on January 4, after weeks of delays, and is now in a 21-day cooling off period allowing for rights of reply from individuals named in it.
While the majority of these individuals have raised only minor issues or none at all, 33 have sent back letters seeking changes to the conclusions drawn. Among these respondents are developers Mr Ronan and Mr O Flynn, who have said they may take legal action if the report is not altered to their satisfaction.
The Irish Examiner understands Mr Ronan is deeply unhappy with the view of Nama in the inquiry’s report, believing it is biased against him. Mr O’Flynn has also raised concerns about Nama and taken issue with references to donations to political parties.
The banking inquiry will advice from its senior counsel at its emergency meeting today.
However, members believe the issues have already been discussed and dismissed by their legal team and that if a judicial review is sought by either developer, this could be done within the existing 21-day cooling off period.
One inquiry member said the only way the cases could delay the inquiry until after the general election, potentially causing its collapse, would be if the claim is lodged days before the cooling off period runs out.
Another noted that neither developer will want to be responsible for bringing down the investigation.
Speaking at a party event yesterday, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman and banking inquiry member Michael McGrath said: “I sincerely hope no court action is taken that could potentially scupper the inquiry.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved