Monday 20 November 2017

Enda Kenny agrees investigation into Sean Fitzpatrick 'a catastrophic failure'

Taoiseach says a Minister who presided over such failure would face 'instant dismissal'

Sean Fitzpatrick with his daughter Sarah, after he was acquitted of all charges. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sean Fitzpatrick with his daughter Sarah, after he was acquitted of all charges. Photo: Damien Eagers
John Downing

John Downing

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has conceded that the handling of the case against the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman was “a catastrophic failure.”

Mr Kenny was responding to scathing Dáil criticisms of the operations of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) by Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, after the trial judge directed the jury to acquit Seán FitzPatrick.

The Fianna Fáil leader said that the outcome of the 127-day-long case was a “damning indictment of the ODCE” and reflected badly on the gardaí.

“The State’s capacity to investigate white collar crime has been shown to be inept, negligible,” Mr Martin said.

“This has been by any measure a catastrophic failure,” the Fianna Fáil leader added.

Mr Martin said documents had been destroyed, witness statements were wrongly collected, with a deal of “witness coaching.”  He said the judge had noted the ODCE set out to build a case against Mr FitzPatrick not to investigate the facts.

Responding to the opposition leader, Mr Kenny made an unprecedented statement at Dáil question time.

“I agree with Deputy Martin,” the Taoiseach said simply.

Mr Kenny went on to say that despite cynicism about politics – a Minister facing a similar instance as this case would face “instant dismissal.”

The Taoiseach said he had not spent the last six years making difficult decisions to simply allow white collar criminals “to just walk away”.

Mr Kenny insisted that while Richard Bruton was Jobs and Enterprise Minister he ensured the ODCE got all the necessary resources. He did not now accept suggestions that the office was under-resourced for the job it was given.

The Taoiseach added that current Enterprise Minister, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, would receive a full report on the matter. He expected the head of the ODCE would attend a Dáil committee.

Leo Varadkar said he wanted to see an “examination” of the investigation carried by the ODCE into the Sean Fitzpatrick case.

“I do absolutely share the concerns of the public and others about how the investigation was handled and reasons as to why the judge ordered an acquittal,” he said

“I do think we will need an examination as to how this went wrong and why those mistakes were made by the ODCE,” he added.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the Government was not serious about tackling white collar crime and “high rollers” got special treatment under the system.  He said resources for the ODCE had been cut with staff falling from 42 to 35 and the number of gardaí attached to the office was halved to just five.

Mr Varadkar said he wanted to see an “examination” of the investigation carried by the ODCE into the Sean Fitzpatrick case.

“I do absolutely share the concerns of the public and others about how the investigation was handled and reasons as to why the judge ordered an acquittal,” he said

“I do think we will need an examination as to how this went wrong and why those mistakes were made by the ODCE,” he added.

Online Editors

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