herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Ex-Taoiseach Cowen to challenge evidence at banking inquiry

politics

Brian Cowen
Brian Cowen

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen has finally been invited to answer questions at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry - and he is now expected to appear in July.

New figures released last night show the inquiry has cost the taxpayer €2.1m so far and could cost a total of €5m.

The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry has called Mr Cowen to give evidence to the committee as part of the central investigative or Nexus phase of its work.

Mr Cowen, who was Taoiseach at the time of the financial crisis in 2008 and our ultimate entry into the Troika bailout in 2010, is known to be annoyed at the delay in being called.

He is keen to counter evidence given to the inquiry in January by Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan that he overruled his then-finance minister, the late Brian Lenihan, on the night of the bank guarantee.

The former leader of Fianna Fáil is one of 14 witnesses sent a letter yesterday by the inquiry.

No date has been set for their appearances, but sources close to the inquiry have said it will be in July.

Others receiving notification today include the former Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy; former Financial Regulator Liam O'Reilly; Kevin Cardiff, a former secretary general of the Department of Finance who is now in a senior role with the European Court of Auditors; and David Doyle, who headed the Department of Finance at the time of the crisis.

Costs

The Nexus phase will run from next Wednesday until the middle of September. About 60 witnesses will be called during this phase.

The inquiry also released cost figures and other details of its work to date last night.

The documents reveal that establishment and initial scoping work cost €996,000, including €220,000 in capital fit-out costs for the committee rooms and staff accommodation.

Computer and ICT equipment cost €290,000, the figures state. Staffing during set-up cost €426,000, with legal advice amounting to €56,000.

Current running costs since the inquiry began in earnest before Christmas have topped €1.17m, with €897,000 being spent on staff costs.

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