Sunday 19 January 2020

Taoiseach is unable to answer questions about FitzPatrick row

Sean FitzPatric
Sean FitzPatric

Niall O'Connor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has come under fire over the ongoing controversy involving the corporate watchdog.

In the Dáil yesterday, Mr Varadkar was unable to answer questions about claims a lack of resources at the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) contributed to the collapse of the trial involving former Anglo boss Seán FitzPatrick.

The Social Democrats, who have been to the fore on this issue, quizzed Mr Varadkar over revelations in the Irish Independent that the lead investigator in the case had flagged the lack of resources in the ODCE.

The party's co-leader, Catherine Murphy, asked the Taoiseach if he was aware of the fact Kevin O'Connell had expressed deep concern about the lack of resources in emails only sent to the Department of Enterprise in recent weeks.

The FitzPatrick trial heard Mr O'Connell had shredded documents relevant to the case and that witnesses were coached. Ms Murphy said a clear conflict has arisen.

"In a week where the public debate rages about the operation of our courts and judiciary, it must be said that cases like the FitzPatrick case have a significant impact on confidence in the system of a whole," Ms Murphy told the Dáil.

The Kildare North TD added that she believed the ODCE misled members of the Dáil by claiming previously there was "no need for any extra resources".

Ms Murphy said her colleague Róisín Shortall had received responses that contradicted those sent to her and to this newspaper by the Department of Jobs.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil he had not seen a report carried out into the collapse of the case by the ODCE. He admitted he could not answer specific questions as a result.

He said the report was with the Attorney General and it would be published in due course. But Mr Varadkar said the ODCE had got additional resources in recent years. He also said he had no reason to express no confidence in the ODCE.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section