Noonan says sorry as officials find files he told Dáil he did not have
Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday apologised for giving the Dáil inaccurate information on the Department of Finance's dealings with Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) after his officials discovered missing files.
A civil servant recently discovered board meeting minutes from IBRC which Mr Noonan previously told the Dáil he had not received.
The minutes included IBRC board meetings where the sale of Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O'Brien was discussed.
However, the details of the sale, including the payment of €5m to Siteserv shareholders and the fact it was the highest bid for the company, was not outlined in the documents.
The minister said the files were discovered by a civil servant compiling a Freedom of Information request.
He wrote to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin apologising for previously telling him he did not have the documents.
Mr Noonan said he would also write to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett to have the Dáil record corrected.
Department of Finance secretary general Derek Moran will go before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to correct statements he made during a hearing.
"There is an error in fact, which I am sorry for but there is no error in substance. It doesn't change in any way the narrative on the Dáil record on who knew what when about Siteserv," Mr Noonan said.
He insisted it was "coincidence" that the Government announced a Commission of Investigation into IBRC on the same day the missing files emerged.
"It is not connected to the decision to have the commission of inquiry. It's a piece of information and I'm sorry it happened but sometimes there are factual errors in information given and the process is to correct them as soon as possible," he said.
Mr Noonan last month said he did not receive the IBRC board meeting minutes relating to the Siteserv sale.
"I have been informed that my officials were not made aware of the details of the transaction during their monthly meetings with IBRC management in advance of the decision of the board to approve the sale," Mr Noonan said.
He made the remarks during a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion seeking to cease the review into IBRC transactions by KPMG and instead establish a Commission of Investigation.
The motion was voted down by the Government at the time.
A Finance source said the documents do not change the fact that the minister was not made aware of the details of the Siteserv deal or any other significant transactions at IBRC.