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Thursday 8 December 2016

Two Banking Inquiry members quit, others struggle to finish job

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty
Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty

Banking Inquiry members were trying last night to produce a draft report for presentation to lawyers this morning.

Committee members were earlier dealt a blow when two deputies, Socialist leader Joe Higgins and Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty, followed through on threats to dissociate themselves from the entire process.

Mr Higgins said he will explain his reasons more fully today, but Mr Doherty said the report will not answer key questions to which the Irish people, who suffered the consequences of the €64bn bank collapse, deserved detailed replies.

At 8.30 last night, the other TDs and senators on the committee agreed the chapter dealing with the committee's findings.

From there they were scheduled to tackle the executive summary, which is the section most likely to be read.

Sources close to the process suggested the meeting could run very late if they were making progress; otherwise, it could be adjourned until today.

Committee chairman Ciar-an Lynch again expressed his determination to see the report through to publication and within the ultimate deadline of January 28, but others on the committee suggested it would be very difficult to achieve this.

Lawyers must first vet the draft text to ensure it does not breach any of the legal constraints, which include an obligation to avoiding blaming any individual.

Then sections of the draft which deal with institutions and individuals must be circulated to them for any comments or replies to criticisms which they may have.

The committee met for 15 hours on Saturday and continued yesterday, with only a short break, from 9.30am.

A source said a late-night session was only likely if they had a chance of making real progress on the executive summary.

Outlining his reasons for withdrawing, Mr Doherty said people had a right to expect that a report would identify those responsible for Ireland's bankruptcy.

"When I agreed to take part in the inquiry, foremost in my mind were the people who have lost their homes and businesses, the cuts inflicted on our public services and the generation forced into emigration because of the banking crisis," the Donegal TD said.

"The people have the right to know how the banking crisis came about, who was responsible and to be assured that it would never happen again.

The €5m inquiry sat for several months, heard 413 hours of evidence and received 42,000 documents in relation to the financial collapse.

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