Wednesday 21 August 2019

Coalition patch up rent row but now face inquiry foul-up

Just when Enda Kenny & Co thought they were getting rid of the very public 'rent certainty' row, they were landed with a major commission of inquiry foul-up
Just when Enda Kenny & Co thought they were getting rid of the very public 'rent certainty' row, they were landed with a major commission of inquiry foul-up
John Downing

John Downing

It looks a serious case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. Just when Enda Kenny & Co thought they were getting rid of the very public "rent certainty" row, they were landed with a major commission of inquiry foul-up.

The big problem with this IBRC/Siteserv commission of inquiry crux is that it makes the Government look like they are not in charge and not up to the job in hand.

There is also the involvement of a company owned by businessman Denis O'Brien to give it some additional public attention.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy, who has led the charge on this issue, again pressed Mr Kenny on the sale of Siteserv to Mr O'Brien yesterday.

And, be it ever so intractable a controversy, its overlap with the patching-up of the Fine Gael-Labour rent dispute harks back to the coalition partners' struggles to keep a semblance of unity as the end of this administration looms into view.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin know there is benefit in keeping up pressure on this one. Michéal Martin can point to government promises last June, be they ever so unlikely, of completion by December 31 next.

Contrast that with the stark reality that the work has not even begun.

Both Mr Martin and Gerry Adams will continue to argue that the subjects of previous inquiry commissions - not often well-heeled businessmen - had no right to confidentiality and privilege. They claim the moneyed classes appear to get different treatment. Both Opposition leaders will be happy to leave the bemused citizens shrug.

The Taoiseach said the Government must await an interim report from the Commission of Inquiry into IBRC's sale of assets. Judge Brian Cregan, the IBRC commission chairman, has said he cannot proceed due to confidentiality and privilege over documents involved in the inquiry.

The problems relate to the limitations and inadequacies of the 2004 legislation under which the inquiry is working. A full report from Judge Cregan is awaited next week; the Attorney General Máire Whelan is studying potential next moves. It is clear this one will take some time to resolve and the Government will continue to be seen in a poor light.

Any way you turn it, the Government is not winning right now. They need to tidy this issue away into a new inquiry format.

This is not the way to prepare for a General Election in the spring.

Irish Independent

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

Don't Miss