Banks collapse probe 'a whitewash'
Plans for an inquiry into the collapse of Ireland's banking system have been denounced as a whitewash designed to protect insiders.
The Government revealed proposals for a statutory Commission of Inquiry - similar to the investigations into clerical child abuse - to uncover the failures that led to the crisis, which has cost taxpayers billions of euro.
The six-month probe will be preceded by two reports, one by the Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan, into his own institution's part in the economic downfall, and another by an independent expert.
These findings are to inform the terms of reference of the inquiry, to begin by June.
But the proposed investigations fall short of Opposition demands for a full public inquiry, with parliamentary involvement.
Enda Kenny, leader of the senior Opposition party Fine Gael, said hundreds of thousands of Irish people now paying the price for the banking bailout and economic crash deserved an open and transparent probe.
"This proposal looks like a whitewash, it looks like a secretive concoction, put together by government... because you are afraid to have the kind of inquiry that the public want," he said.
"In the public mind, this is a response of insiders for insiders, designed to protect insiders."
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore insisted the investigation would have no remit to examine the failures of the Government and now Taoiseach Brian Cowen, when he was Finance Minister in the run-up to the collapse.
"This is a dodge," he said. "It is an attempt to replace what we are looking for, what Fine Gael is looking for, what the public is looking for, what the Governor of the Central Bank was looking for, what most responsible opinion was looking for - an inquiry into what happened to our banking system, to be conducted openly and in public."