The chairman of the long-awaited banking inquiry has played down concerns that it may not complete its work in the lifetime of this Dáil, but accepted that it will face "significant challenges".
Labour TD Ciarán Lynch has pledged that the inquiry will report by November 2015, which is well in advance of when he believes the next election will be held in the following spring.
The Dáil last night passed a motion which will allow the inquiry to officially get under way.
Contacts are already being made with witnesses who may be compelled to attend if they live in this country, but not if they are in another jurisdiction, such as European Central Bank officials.
But with a general election next year looking increasingly likely, some committee members have raised concerns that the committee might not complete its work before it is dissolved.
Fianna Fáil member of the committee, Michael McGrath, has described the timetable as “challenging”, while Fine Gael TD, Eoghan Murphy, said last week he did not know what the committee was waiting for.
Mr Lynch said there has been no disagreement between its 11 members and “everyone is operating off the same hymn sheet” on this issue.
“The members are not saying there is any danger to the inquiry itself. What they are actually expressing is a desire to get down to doing the work. I share that anxiousness,” he said.
He told the Irish Examiner: “This is the first inquiry of its type to be carried out, so it does come with significant challenges. But we have met every deadline so far, it is running to schedule and the plan will be carried out.”
The “context phase” of its hearings will begin in the coming weeks.
Witnesses in this phase will be the authors of previous reports into the crisis, including Finnish academic, Peter Nyberg, who reported on the banking collapse in early 2011, as well as Klaus Regling and Max Watson, who reported in 2010.
The next phase is due to begin in April 2015, which will examine the role of the bankers who were in charge at the time and the auditors who signed off on accounts of the banks.
It will look at the State institutions, such as the financial regulator, the Central Bank and the Department of Finance.
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