Today is the final day of public hearings of the Banking Inquiry – an inquiry that was established to serve the Irish people, to get the answers to questions about the banking crisis and to ensure that a crisis of this nature is never visited upon the Irish people again.
The banking crisis was, and remains, one of the most traumatic events in modern Irish history – it has impacted on homes, families and communities throughout our country.
Few were spared its effects and many are still suffering from them today.
Many people have rightfully asked – how did this happen?
While much has been written about the crisis, gaps have remained in our knowledge of that time. The Irish people want and deserve the fullest and most comprehensive understanding of how this crisis enveloped our country.
It is right and fitting that in a parliamentary democracy, our parliament, people elected on behalf of the people, should seek to provide answers to questions about the crisis on its people’s behalf.
These past months of hearings have demonstrated that the Irish parliament can hold a fair and impartial public inquiry.
The Inquiry has been held in an open and transparent manner with proceedings broadcast on the internet and on television for all to see and hear. It has portrayed our parliament in a positive light with members from all parties and no party working together on behalf of the Irish people.
For those members of the public watching us today, I want to say that this inquiry was set up to serve you, the Irish people, to provide the fullest understanding, to ensure we learn the lessons from our past so that it is not repeated in the future.
You have had the opportunity to hear, at first hand, from those who were involved in one of the major events in the history of our country. You were able to see and hear from them as they were questioned and gave their evidence to our committee.
The Committee is now embarking on the final phase of its work leading to its final report. This involves the analysis and review of evidence, obtaining clarification of material evidence from witnesses, and the compilation of books of core documents for publication with the final report.
When the public hearings conclude this afternoon, the Committee will have heard oral evidence from 128 witnesses over 49 days since last December.
These witnesses, representing all the key institutions and relevant stakeholders, along with relevant experts, have brought a wide range of perspectives to bear on the Committee’s comprehensive examination of Ireland’s banking crisis.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Committee members for their hard work and commitment during our public hearings.
However, the taking of oral evidence is only a part of the work of this Inquiry.
The Inquiry has sought and received nearly 50,000 documents to date amounting to hundreds of thousands of pages. This is the first time that the key documents over the period 1st January 1992 to 31st December 2013 have been collated and examined in one place at one time.
The real strength of the Inquiry is its ability not just to look at one document in isolation but to draw together the different strands from various sources, along with key public testimony, to get a better picture of what happened, to put in place the pieces of the jigsaw which made up the banking crisis.
Over the coming months, the Committee and its team will work on bringing together all of the ingredients for its final report.
While public hearings with witnesses are televised and webcast live, these are only part of the process. Much of the Joint Committee’s work is less visible to the public.
A parliamentary inquiry is a complex project, requiring a dedicated and expert team working behind the scenes to support the work of the Joint Committee.
In this regard, I would like to thank the secretariat and investigators for the work that they have done to date and will continue to do so on behalf of this Inquiry, as we work together to complete our final report.
Every hour of public hearings require hours of backroom work and support. Without this support, the Committee would not be successfully completing its Public Hearings today.
And I would also like to thank the wider Oireachtas staff – in particular, the debates staff who ensured that transcripts of each day’s hearings were made available in a timely and efficient manner; and the parliamentary ushers and restaurant staff who were on hand despite many early mornings and very late night sittings.
Now we commence our final hearings, starting with Ajai Chopra.
All media enquiries in relation to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry should be addressed to:
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All general enquiries should be directed to the Committee Secretariat.
t. +353 1 618 3651
Ciarán Lynch (Chairman)
John Paul Phelan
Sean D Barrett