Tuesday 30 May 2017

Taoiseach confirms claims raised by Sinn Fein TD related to Denis O'Brien will be investigated

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

By Lise Hand in Brussels

The Taoiseach has confirmed that the claims raised by Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty are to come under the Commission of Investigation.

During a Dáil debate last night, Mr Doherty gave details of what he said were documents related to businessman Denis O’Brien's IBRC loans.

Pearse Doherty told the Dáil that Mr O'Brien had a €315m IBRC loan extended on the basis of an apparent verbal agreement, despite it having been earlier repeatedly rejected by the bank's group credit committee.

Speaking as he arrived in Brussels for an EU-CELAC summit, Mr Kenny said that the deputy’s documents had been examined by attorney general Maire Whelan. “I can confirm that the documentation deputy Doherty referred to was handed in at the gate yesterday and was given to my office,” he said. “I had that documentation examined by the attorney general this morning and she confirmed that within the terms of reference that documentation is eligible to be considered by the commission of investigation.”

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien

The Taoiseach also said that while the commission of investigation has a six-month remit, it was possible that it may have to be extended. However he added that he expected an interim report before the end of the year.

“The wider you make the terms of reference, the more work there is to be done and it’s not going to be easy work,” he said. “It has a six-month remit but who knows what may arise in terms of other court cases, I can’t speak for that. If it can’t be delivered in six months, then I expect the sole member will produce a report of the work that has been done to date at that point”.

Mr Kenny also rejected criticism from the opposition this week that he and Fine Gael have close ties to Mr O’Brien. “I have no dealings with Denis O’Brien at all,” he stated. “What’s happened in the past is in the past.  So whether it’s Denis O’Brien or anybody else, the terms of reference are there for the Commission of Investigation and I expect they’ll do their job and do it fully, completely, thoroughly and very adequately.”

The Taoiseach also responded to the ESRI describing as disappointing the Finance Minister’s plans for an expansionary budget this year.  The economic think tank said it was “not advisable”.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty

While Mr Kenny said that the government “will take into account the views of the ESRI,” he added, “It’s also important to know that we’ve already set the range of where we want to be, and we want to continue to be competitive, to reduce the tax burden, to continue to create jobs, to get the country back to work.”

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