Banking inquiry to progress 'very quickly after Easter'

Efforts to set up the Oireachtas banking inquiry are expected to speed up now that the Anglo trial has come to a conclusion.

Anglo's former finance director Willie McAteer and its head of lending in Ireland Pat Whelan were yesterday found guilty of providing €450m worth of illegal loans to the Maple 10 to buy Anglo shares in July 2008.

The bank's former chairman Sean FitzPatrick was acquitted on all charges against him on Wednesday.

It is understood the Government will issue a request on the investigation's mandate after Easter, but it is believed public hearings could be some time away.

Last Autumn, the Government announced it was moving ahead with the inquiry into the near-collapse of the banking system and the response to it.

It was hoped the inquiry would begin quickly. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions is understood to have told the Government about its potential to jeopardise the trials.

Now that the Anglo trial has concluded, those involved in the inquiry are hoping to push on with collecting information for the public phase of the investigation, including determining what witnesses will be called.

Political sources have told The Irish Times that a formal request from the Government to the Oireachtas on the mandate, timing and framework of the investigation should be issued "very quickly after Easter".

The Finance Committee chaired by Labour TD Ciaran Lynch is expected to take charge of the inquiry.

However, public hearings could be several months away and politicians are conscious of the possibility of appeals against yesterday's convictions.

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