Friday 2 December 2016

How the perfect storm came to break over the Four Courts

Published 06/06/2015 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who this week announced a Commission of Investigation into the Sitserv deal and other IBRC transactions
Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who this week announced a Commission of Investigation into the Sitserv deal and other IBRC transactions

Politics, like King Lear's thankless child, can be "sharper than a serpent's tooth." The Government must be sickened by the week's events. Only last weekend the Coalition parties were flying high in the polls. Brendan Howlin had secured a wage deal with the public service unions; there was even speculation about an early election. Unemployment, at 9.8pc, was lowest since 2009 and tax revenues were way ahead of projections. But to quote Pat Rabbitte: "Bond yields butter no parsnips."

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A perfect storm was brewing down at the Four Courts. Businessman Denis O'Brien had been granted an interim injunction against RTÉ, halting the publication of a story about his banking arrangements with IBRC, which he claimed breached his privacy rights. Round one to Mr O'Brien.

But Independent TD Catherine Murphy, who had been probing the Siteserv deal for months, read the disputed banking information on to the Dáil record under Dáil privilege. A nervous media hesitated to report her speech over the weekend for fear of being in contempt of court. But that fear proved groundless. On Tuesday, the High Court confirmed that privilege trumped the injunction against RTÉ and the remarks could be published.

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