Taoiseach accused of 'going into hiding' over Siteserv IBRC controversy, Dail hears
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of “going into hiding” over the Siteserv IBRC controversy in the Dail this afternoon.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Mr Kenny of staying silent when various media outlets decided not to publish comments about the businessman Denis O’Brien and his banking arrangements made in the Dail under privilege by Independent TD Catherine Murphy.
During Leaders’ Questions, Mr Martin was asking the Taoiseach about the four day period when media outlets failed to report on Ms Murphy’s comments because of confusion over whether a High Court injunction prevented those comments from being published.
Mr Martin lashed Mr Kenny who he said “ducked and dived” and was guilty of an “absence of leadership” when Ms Murphy was called a “liar and a thief” by Mr O’Brien’s spokesman on the national airwaves.
Mr Martin asked Mr Kenny whether he was afraid of confronting Mr O’Brien.
“Are you scared of this individual, were you afraid of him,” asked Mr Martin.
In response, Mr Kenny said he was requested by members of the opposition to recall the Dail but said it was not appropriate for the House to be recalled. As to his “silence” on the weekend in question, Mr Kenny said he had five public engagements on the Friday, the same on the Saturday and the Sunday.
“The request was made for me to recall the Dail. This house had no authority to interfere with that court case. It wasn’t appropriate to have the house recalled,” Mr Kenny said.
Mr Kenny ultimately said he was happy to see the High Court vindicate the principle of absolute privilege which is conferred on members of the Oireachtas.
“I was very happy to see the judge vindicate the rights of deputies to speak freely under privilege in this House,” Mr Kenny said.
Meanwhile, it is estimated the Government’s Commission of Investigation into the Siteserv sale will cost the taxpayer at least €4m.
The terms of the Inquiry have been published this afternoon. In a statement from Finance Minister Micheal Noonan said the Government felt the formation of the inquiry was “necessary”.
The Commission will seek to establish whether transactions, activities or management decision gave rise to a significant loss to IBRC and by extension to the State.
The Commission will also establish whether any improper favourable treatment was given to any persons involved in those transactions to the detriment of IBRC.
The establishment of a Commission of Investigation will also facilitate a broader scope of inquiry and will enable the interview of witnesses and the investigation of matters, such as the trading of shares, which cannot adequately be investigated based only on a review of files held by IBRC.
The Commission of Investigation will expected to report its findings to the Government by 31 December 2015.
“It is difficult to estimate the costs which will be incurred by the Commission of Investigation with certainty, in circumstances where the ultimate scope of transactions which will require to be investigated has not yet been conclusively established, however it is likely to incur a cost of at least €4 million,” Mr Noonan said.
In response to significant public concerns regarding certain transaction during this period, the Minister for Finance directed the Special Liquidator, KPMG’s Kieran Wallace, on 27 April 2015 to conduct a review with the assistance of retired High Court Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill and to report before 30 August 2015.
“The Minister maintains the view that the review could be concluded competently in a prompt and efficient manner”, the statement said.
Mr Noonan added that since the review was established, new allegations have been made which have increased public concern.
Taking these developments into account and the perceived or potential conflict of interest that have been publically raised, the Government has decided to establish a Commission of Investigation.