Last year, the Government brought forward the House of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill after the people voted down a referendum in this regard the previous autumn. The Bill was agreed by the Oireachtas and during his Second Stage contribution, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform outlined passionately the process of clarifying the role of the Houses of the Oireachtas in securing accountability through investigations into matters of significant public importance. He stated:
This Bill will enhance the effective functioning of our modern parliamentary democracy by facilitating such inquiries and it is our duty as public representations to use our constitutional powers appropriately and responsibility and for the benefit of wider society and the economy. Used effectively, I anticipate that the framework established by this Bill will facilitate focused, constructive political discourse that will enhance our parliamentary system.
Those were the Minister's words this time last year when he brought forward the Bill to establish the banking inquiry.
By any stretch of credibility, what has happened over the past number of days has brought not only the House and the Seanad into disrepute but it has also brought the banking inquiry into disrepute. It is undermining the inquiry's credibility before it even starts its work.