Thursday 27 October 2016

Whistleblower's letter raises fresh Bank Inquiry concerns

Published 21/07/2015 | 02:30

Marc MacSharry
Marc MacSharry

A banking inquiry whistleblower claims the Houses of the Oireachtas tried to discredit them after they raised serious concerns about alleged misconduct among the committee's investigation team.

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In a letter to the Oireachtas HR department, the highly-qualified professional also claimed their legal rights under whistleblower legislation have been breached after their pay was suspended last week.

The inquiry investigator claimed their pay was stopped because they refused to accept an "illegal" transfer from the section dealing with the Central Bank after they made allegations about the inquiry's work.

The whistleblower also said they were "particularly disturbed" by the fact another member of the investigation team resigned in May, citing the same irregularities.

The letter was copied to all the inquiry members, Acting Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin. The whistleblower's allegations centre on claims that the inquiry's investigation team gave preferential treatment to witnesses and held secret meetings with officials from the Central Bank, the Department of Finance and Nama.

All three institutions deny their staff were involved in any such inappropriate meetings.

The whistleblower also raised concerns about the redaction of material in vital documents being reviewed by the €5m taxpayer funded investigation into collapse of the banking sector.

The Sunday Independent reported the whistleblower's pay was suspended after they refused to work for almost three months. But the whistleblower alleges the Oireachtas sought to transfer them in April from the section of the inquiry dealing with the Central Bank after they raised concerns.

After making the allegations, the investigator claimed the Houses of the Oireachtas issued a report, orchestrated by Banking Inquiry chairman Ciaran Lynch, aimed at discrediting them. Mr Lynch refused to comment on the claims - saying it was a matter of the Oireachtas.

In the letter, the whistleblower claims the Oireachtas tried to transfer them on April 27, after they made claims of misconduct two days earlier. On July 10, they wrote to the Oireachtas HR department stating they made allegations under the Protected Disclosure Act.

They claim five days later they received a letter, telling them their pay would be suspended for refusing to accept the transfer. But they claim this is a breach of their legal rights as the law prohibits employees being penalised after they raise concerns over potential misconduct. A Bank Inquiry meeting will be held in private today.

The potentially damaging allegations have led to outrage among committee members.

Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry, who first publicly raised the allegations, said the claims need to be investigated "independently and thoroughly" to ensure the integrity of the Banking Inquiry is upheld.

"The situation is continuing to develop and the more I hear the more I grow gravely concerned about how this affair is being handled. I am looking forward to tomorrow's private hearing where I will be raising my concerns with my colleagues," Mr MacSharry told the Irish Independent.

A spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas Service said it "strongly refutes the claim that it has acted illegally with regard to the allegations made under the Protected Disclosures Act.

"In fact, the Oireachtas Service have acted in strict compliance with the act and are proceeding to establish an independent investigation into the claims made under it."

Irish Independent

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