Friday 15 December 2017

U-turn on move to suspend pay of whistleblower

Banking Inquiry member and Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry welcomed the Oireachtas U-turn but said he still had serious concerns about how the entire controversy was handled
Banking Inquiry member and Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry welcomed the Oireachtas U-turn but said he still had serious concerns about how the entire controversy was handled

Philip Ryan political Correspondent

The Houses of the Oireachtas Service has bowed to public pressure and reversed a decision to suspend the Banking Inquiry whistleblower's pay, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Oireachtas officials wrote to the whistleblower, threatening a suspension of pay on the same day their allegations of wrongdoing at the heart of the taxpayer-funded inquiry became public knowledge.

The decision led to an angry backlash from inquiry members who demanded an immediate reversal of the decision.

In a previous statement to this newspaper, the whistleblower, who was a member of the inquiry's investigation team, said the Oireachtas notified them on July 16 that their pay would be suspended the following week.

The investigator stopped attending work in April, claiming the Oireachtas sought to transfer them from the section dealing with financial regulatory bodies after they made allegations about the Central Bank documentation.

However, the Sunday Independent has learned the whistleblower received a full month's salary last week. "We were told they were moving ahead with the pay suspension but the committee members were not too hot on that," an Oireachtas source said.

The source said the timing of the pay cut was raised at a "very lively" private meeting with members, which introduced a bit of "realism" into the debate. Banking Inquiry member and Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry welcomed the Oireachtas U-turn but said he still had serious concerns about how the entire controversy was handled.

"Of course, members have not been told anything officially by the Oireachtas but I understand the whistleblower has received their wages this month and that is to be welcomed," Mr MacSharry said.

"However, this entire process has been handled in a very unsatisfactory manner."

Mr MacSharry also criticised the investigation into the whistleblower allegations.

An investigation headed by barrister Senan Allen began last week and will examine the worrying allegations raised by the whistleblower in a detailed report given to the inquiry. Potentially damaging conflicts of interest and inappropriate contact between committee members and witnesses are central to the claims being reviewed by Mr Allen.

The whistleblower, who is a highly-qualified professional, has also made serious claims about the documentation being reviewed by the €5m State-funded inquiry into the collapse of the banking system.

It is claimed potentially crucial information from institutions being investigated by the Oireachtas committee are deemed irrelevant because the inquiry's investigation team is under pressure to reduce the documentation submitted as evidence.

Sunday Independent

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