Kelleher warns of bank inquiry bias

A Government TD has warned of the “danger” of bias ahead of the banking inquiry but stressed the need for an investigation after the “economic mismanagement” of Fianna Fáil.

Kelleher warns of bank inquiry bias

However, the Government was last night warned that the proposed banking inquiry would see witnesses and those investigated queuing up outside the High Court in a bid to protect their reputations.

Standing orders for the new Oireachtas inquiries system were agreed by the Dáil last night following a debate about the guidelines for setting up investigations.

While the coalition said there was “no conspiracy theory” or political agenda behind the measures, the opposition claimed the courts would be used to challenge any probe.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher said under the new rules the issue of bias among any member of an inquiry would be decided by the Dáil, which was controlled by government TDs.

The Cork North Central TD said the Irish people had spoken in rejecting the 2011 referendum to empower politicians for inquiries.

The long-awaited banking inquiry — the first of the new probes — would now face court challenges, he said. “Many people will go to the court to try and vindicate their good name.”

Labour’s Emmet Stagg said the country deserved to know the facts of what had happened and led to the economic collapse.

“Since this Government took office in March 2011, when we were left to clean up the mess of 14 years of Fianna Fáil economic mismanagement, we have been committed to ensuring the Irish people get the benefit of a full and comprehensive inquiry,” he said.

But the Kildare TD then warned that any inquiry must be aware of the “danger” of bias or comments already made. He also argued it was correct that former taoisigh, ministers and civil servants account for their roles in the financial crisis.

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe also said: “The people who made the decisions that led to the economic collapse must come before the elected representatives of the people of Ireland.”

Independent TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the idea that the committee examining the banking crisis could have TDs who were not biased was “ridiculous”.

Government TDs have said the banking inquiry could take place in the first half of this year. However, in recent days it has been suggested the start date will be in the autumn following the initial set up of the appropriate committee.

Under the new rules agreed last night, the public will also be able to submit objections to TDs sitting on an inquiry as will other third parties such as banks or private firms.

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