The meeting, which began at 8pm and continued late into the night, was called yesterday after members claimed to inquiry chair and Labour TD Ciarán Lynch the latest version would not stand up to legal scrutiny and was politically biased.
The document, which had been cut back to approximately 300 pages after an initial 750-page document was deemed to have more than 1,000 inaccuracies, has expanded to more than 450 pages, excluding appendices, due to fresh amendments.
The latest version also includes a lengthy executive summary, which is believed to be extremely critical of the previous government’s failure to listen to concerns over budget spending. In particular, it finds former finance ministers Brian Cowen and Charlie McCreevy ignored warnings from within their own department about an over-heating economy.
This specific point has led to anger from Fianna Fáil members, with one claiming the executive summary is “tabloid in style” and does not reflect all evidence put before the investigation team during its lengthy public meetings earlier this year.
Another member from a different political party said he has sent in more than 100 amendments since examining the report on Monday, but does not believe this process will stand up to any legal scrutiny, as members are being asked to sign off on a final, post-amendment process draft they have not had time to properly read.
The new version of the bank inquiry report was drawn up by Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy, Labour senator Susan O’Keeffe, and a number of officials over the past week, as part of a last-ditch attempt to ensure a report of any kind is published.
The previous 750-page file was scrapped two weeks ago after a separate crisis due to the fact it was alleged to have had more than 1,000 inaccuracies, and to have left out key issues the investigation was meant to address.
Mr Murphy and Ms O’Keeffe’s redrawn report was shown to all inquiry members on Sunday and Monday, who were then asked to submit initial recommendations for changes before a formal amendments cut off point yesterday at 6pm. It had been expected that at this point the inquiry report would be provisionally signed off, with a pre-arranged meeting organised for today to discuss and agree the findings and recommendations of the document.
However, last night’s emergency meeting is likely to again delay the report’s publication, making the plan to sign off on the document today before sending it out to people named in the report for an unavoidable legal right-of-reply process will be significantly hampered.
The legal right of reply deadline is linked directly to a series of essential deadlines for the inquiry before the general election, with any delay risking the report not being published by January 20, a date Mr Lynch and Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton have noted in recent days can be extended to January 28 if required.
One inquiry official last night claimed the emergency meeting was not unexpected as “it was never going to be a case of coming in on Thursday with little rubber stamps”.