Inquiry members confirmed the plan last night as they scrambled to meet strict legal deadlines over the next seven days which will make or break the investigation.
After a series of crises saw the original 750-page report scrapped this week due to more than 1,000 inaccuracies in the first document, the inquiry agreed on Tuesday to rewrite the entire report in a matter of days — placing it under intense pressure to meet the deadline demand.
The new file is being drawn up by Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy and Labour senator Susan O’Keeffe, alongside Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin’s finance spokespeople’s private secretaries and backroom officials.
When completed this evening, it will stretch to 250-300 pages and involve 11 chapters instead of the original 27.
Inquiry members will then be given a “window of opportunity” on Sunday and Monday to read the new version of the report, with any amendments lodged by Wednesday.
Provided there are no further roadblocks at Thursday’s private meeting, the inquiry report will be sent out for unavoidable rights of reply from those who gave evidence next weekend.
As the rights of reply process will not conclude until just before Christmas, before a 21-day cooling off period takes place as part of mandatory legal rules, the inquiry report’s new timeline means it is in a race against time to be published before the general election.
While some inquiry members believe the document remains on track, a number close to the rewriting process stressed last night the new draft may still fail to meet publicly stated ambitions because large portions of evidence will have to be left out completely.
This move could see the report, which has already been delayed a week, fail to hit its stated January 20 publication deadline — which an inquiry spokesperson claimed last night has never been formally agreed, repeatedly a new position taken during the turmoil earlier this week.
Meanwhile, a bank inquiry member has stressed for a second time in a matter of days that the cross-party group’s senior counsel legal expert warned officials knew about the serious problems with the now scrapped original 750-page report early last month, but failed to take appropriate action.
The member said the legal expert was “pretty scathing in the emerging content she had sight of” and that backroom officials of the committee were aware of the clear legal and accuracy problems “from October through to November”.
The member said during a presentation to the inquiry at its emergency meeting last Saturday the senior counsel confirmed “she didn’t actually see the draft” until the 11 TDs and senators were allowed to examine it a fortnight ago.
Bank inquiry chair and Labour Cork South Central TD Ciaran Lynch last night said the cross-party group will complete its work and have a draft report ready for inspection within the existing schedule.