RTÉ News understands the banking inquiry may be held in the first four or five months of this year.

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe met party whips today and they were briefed on the legal advice regarding a committee of inquiry which is the form the banking inquiry is going to take.

They heard that there will have to be a significant number of changes to standing orders or the rules of the House to proceed.

Extra powers will have to be given to a Dáil committee, the committee on procedure and privileges, to ensure the legislation is implemented correctly.

That committee will have to make decisions on all of this by 4 February and then it will go before the Dáil and Seanad.

It is understood the rules on bias will be very stringent in terms of who is eligible to be on the committee for the banking inquiry.

It is also believed a  separate committee will hold the inquiry.

The banking inquiry could then be set up in the first four or five months of this year, which would be ahead of Local and European elections.