Thursday 18 January 2018

Probe into Siteserv deal could be 'frontloaded' by Commission

Catherine Murphy (Photo: Tom Burke)
Catherine Murphy (Photo: Tom Burke)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Efforts are to be made to expedite a probe into the sale of contracting firm Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O'Brien by the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The transaction is among 38 multi-million euro deals that are under investigation by the Cregan Commission which has hit a number of stumbling blocks.

Mr Justice Brian Cregan has indicated that there are major issues around confidentiality and legal privilege which are hampering his work.

Legislation is likely to be needed to overcome some of these issues and it could take several years for the Commissions work to be complete. It originally had a deadline of the end of last year.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny met with Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy, Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald yesterday to discuss the impasse.

They agreed that the Siteserv deal is of "particular public concern".

The company was sold to Millington with a write-down of €119m and one of its subsidiaries subsequently went on to win a lucrative contracting installing meters for Irish Water.

Last November the Government indicated that it would be impossible to hold a single investigation into the deal, outside of the 37 other transactions.

However, last night Ms Murphy said that view is now changing.

"At this morning's meeting there was a consensus regarding the need to move this issue forward as a matter of urgency and the Taoiseach has undertaken to work with officials and Justice Cregan with a view to meeting us again in two weeks at which point we would hope to be in a position to have the framework for legislation drafted and the Terms of Reference revised with a view to being laid before the Dáil in a relatively short time-frame," she said.

"There is agreement that Siteserv is an issue of particular public concern and as such it should be frontloaded as a specific module of work that could be undertaken in a timely and cost-efficient manner and the amended Terms of Reference should reflect this.

"While the Siteserv issue will be prioritised, provision will be made in legislation for other transactions to be inquired into following the completion of the Siteserv module."

Irish Independent

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