Socialist TD Joe Higgins to publish his own report on banking inquiry

Socialist TD Joe Higgins will publish an alternative bank inquiry report calling for “fundamental legislative change” to prevent a repeat of what happened during the property bubble when the official document is released next month.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins to publish his own report on banking inquiry

The bank inquiry member, who confirmed on Sunday he will not sign off on the official file, made the controversial move as the inquiry faces into another three-day period which will make or break its future.

Speaking in Leinster House after publishing a letter to inquiry chair Ciaran Lynch outlining his reasons for refusing to agree to the rewritten document’s findings, Mr Higgins said he cannot comment on what recommendations have been made by the cross-party panel.

However, stressing his own unofficial report will include issues which are not touched on or avoided entirely in the official file, the Socialist TD said it will include the need to impose “fundamental legislative change” on economic and housing areas to ensure a repeat of the crash is avoided.

Asked if his concern in the official report will let those responsible off the hook because of its lack of powers, Mr Higgins said he “couldn’t possibly hint” at what it might include but that he is looking forward to a “vigorous debate” when both documents are released.

“I will be doing my analysis and conclusions, and as soon as the report is concluded I will be free to put those out there. Fundamental legislative change will have to be included,” he said, before adding that he will not be asking Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty — who has also refused to sign off on the official document — to support his own version of events.

Meanwhile, despite the final version of the bank inquiry report being signed off on by nine of its 11 members after marathon meetings last weekend the investigation is facing into another three days of uncertainty.

The 450-page, 11 chapter file is now with the inquiry’s senior counsel, who has until Wednesday to examine its contents and decide whether it can be sent out to named individuals, needs further amendments or should be scrapped entirely.

Even if the report passes the legal test, inquiry members will only have Thursday to make any changes as it must send out the document for an unavoidable rights of reply process on Friday.

This legal period is linked directly to the inquiry’s planned January 27 deadline, which is just 24 hours before the cut off point for it to be published — and, crucially, the still unannounced general election date.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said while the report has been agreed, it is still possible legal problems could kill off the investigation.

The problem was privately noted by a number of other inquiry members, with all who spoke to the Irish Examiner raising concerns about the limitations of the Oireachtas Inquiries Act.

However, speaking in Brussels, Finance Minister Michael Noonan claimed the work under the law “looks to me pretty good”.

Asked in Dublin if he would implement the inquiry’s findings, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he wants to see the report before drawing any conclusions.

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