Monday 20 May 2019

Banking Inquiry whistleblower claims confidential information was leaked to journalist

Leinster House. Photo: Getty Images
Leinster House. Photo: Getty Images
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

A barrister appointed to investigate serious allegations of wrongdoing surrounding the Banking Inquiry will probe claims that confidential information was leaked to a journalist.

Senior counsel Senan Allen was appointed by the Oireachtas to investigate allegations made in a report to the Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan by a member of the inquiry’s investigation team.

The Oireachtas tonight released the terms of reference for Mr Allen’s investigation.

He will investigate allegations that false information was given to Oireachtas Committee members, and preferential treatment was given to certain witnesses.

The investigation will also look at alleged conflicts of interest that it is claimed were not appropriately handled by the inquiry’s investigation team.

Mr Allen will also be required to examine the allegations in the context of the legislation underpinning the Bank Inquiry.

The leaking of information to a journalist named by the whistleblower will also form part of the investigation.

It is expected Mr Allen will complete his report by the end of August and present it to Mr Finnegan.

The whistleblower made a series of potentially serious allegations relating to the work of the inquiry’s investigation team in April.

A comprehensive report detailing the claims was given to Mr Finnegan and Chairman of the Banking Inquiry Ciaran Lynch in June.

However, it was not shared with the rest of the Oireachtas committee members.

Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry, who first raised the whistleblower’s concerns publicly, said he was unhappy with the terms of reference as he believes they do not go far enough.

The whistleblower’s pay has been suspended since last week after, it is claimed, they refused a transfer from a section within the Banking Inquiry.

Mr MacSharry and Socialist TD Joe Higgins, who is also a committee member, have called for the pay to be reinstated.

The Oireachtas insists it has not acted inappropriately in suspending the pay.

Meanwhile, Mr MacSharry said the terms of reference were "inadequate" and called for an inquiry independent of the Oireachtas.

"For the integrity of the inquiry after all the work for the last year which has been undertake there must be a full independent inquiry separate to the Oireachtas service, the inquiry members, the investigation team and the whistleblower themselves," he said

He added: "This is necessary in the interest of the whisleblower, the banking inquiry members and staff and the oireachtas service but above all it is in the public interest.  This is what I am calling for since last Tuesday when these matters first came to my attention."

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