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Sweeping inquiry will probe more than 20 years of banking

The long-awaited €5m Oireachtas Banking Inquiry is to investigate the controversial bank guarantee, the troika bailout and the decision to liquidate the IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The committee is set to adopt the recommendations it received from its ad-hoc advisory group, which included economists Colm McCarthy and Megan Greene and a number of top civil servants.

The 11-person committee will meet today in private to sign off on its terms of reference.

Its proposal document, seen by the Irish Independent, outlines how a two-phase inquiry will examine events from 1992, when European banking capital requirements were changed, up until the end of 2013.

The inquiry is to have two key focuses: firstly, to find out what happened in the banks; and, secondly, to examine the lead-up, night of and fallout from the €440bn September 2008 bank guarantee.

Under its plans, as part of the Context Phase, initial preparation work, including technical briefings, is to begin in October, with the first hearings to start in December.

Then in the new year, the Inquiry Phase will start hearings on April 13 and conclude on September 24, with a proposed 42 days of hearings.

The inquiry committee aims to publish its final report no later than November 30, 2015.

The report also identifies for the first time the complete list of witnesses who will be asked to appear before it.

While not listed by name, they include current and former members of Cabinet; former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern; former top officials in the Departments of Finance and An Taoiseach, including Kevin Cardiff, Dermot McCarthy and David Doyle; current and former Central Bank top management, including Governor Patrick Honohan and his predecessor John Hurley and former financial regulators Pat Neary and Matthew Elderfield.


The committee will also seek to hear from former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, top staff in the NTMA and NAMA, as well as whistleblowers such as Marie Mackle from the Department of Finance.

In its final proposal, the committee identifies a number of major “possible risks and constraints on its work”.

These include legislation governing the Central Bank’s disclosure of confidential information, a potential perception of bias against witnesses, the impact the inquiry could have in terms of prejudicing ongoing legal cases, cabinet confidentiality and the real threat that the Dail could fall before the inquiry concludes its work.

Some on the inquiry have voiced their concern about such limitations.

Independent Senator Sean Barrett said: “The report lacks a reform agenda. What are we going to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again? It also doesn’t deal with failures in public sector decision making.”

Mr Barrett has also criticised what he called the needless “colonisation” of office space by inquiry staff in the greater Leinster House complex.

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