Banking inquiry: Call for full investigation of ‘improper behaviour’

Whistleblower wants review completely removed from Houses of Oireachtas service

File photograph of  a Houses of the Oireachtas commission room. File photograph: Alan Betson/Irish Times

File photograph of a Houses of the Oireachtas commission room. File photograph: Alan Betson/Irish Times

 

The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry whistleblower has called for a “full independent” investigation to be held into their allegations of improper behaviour by members of the committee’s support staff.

They also want the investigation to be “completely removed” from the control of the Houses of the Oireachtas service.

In a four-page statement released to The Irish Times, the whistleblower claimed that the Houses of the Oireachtas service, which provides administrative support to the Dáil and Seanad and employs the banking inquiry staff, had engaged in “repeated acts of penalisation” against them, in breach of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.

The whistleblower, who wishes to remain anonymous, first made allegations of improper behaviour by members of the investigations team on April 25th.

This person then produced an 86-page report detailing their allegations, which was provided to the Houses of the Oireachtas service.

Witnesses

The whistleblower claims that the terms of reference for a review of the allegations to be carried out for the Houses of the Oireachtas Service by Senior Counsel Senan Allen while including consideration of the claim that certain participants received favourable treatment do not detail or substantiate the allegations which include “off-the-record telephone calls and meetings” and “improper pressure on certain investigators to exclude certain relevant witnesses”.”

It is also alleged that there was “significant ongoing and detailed leaking of information by a certain investigator” to a national newspaper.

And the whistleblower claims that they were “routinely instructed to disregard redacted material” emanating from an unnamed institution, which “in my view could have proven to be extremely relevant to the proper processing of the investigation”.

The “instructions were relayed to me by superiors and included instructions to inform the Joint Committee of Inquiry that participants had complied with matters related to compelled documentation, when in my view, participants were not compliant”.

The “participants” are believed to be the Central Bank of Ireland and the Department of Finance.

Concern

The whistleblower claims they were prevented from engaging in “basic investigative work and from exploring valid lines of inquiry”.

“I am extremely concerned that the timeframe given to Senan Allen to conduct this investigation will ultimately lead, particularly in light of the limited terms of reference and in conjunction with the limited term period for a review, to a sub-standard and wholly inadequate review that will not broach the complexity of the allegations raised by me,” the whistleblower added.

“Furthermore, the terms of reference are silent on the requirement to investigate the origin, publication and distribution of the false and defamatory statements made about me in an official report dated May 6th produced by the Houses of the Oireachtas service.”

The whistleblower said a member of staff at the Houses of the Oireachtas service had “assured” them in writing that this would be included in the terms of the review by Mr Allen.

After the allegations were made, the whistleblower claims that their duties as an investigator were transferred on April 27th.

A “false announcement of my resignation” was made during the week beginning June 1st, and their desk was cleared.

Notification of their salary being suspended was received on July 15th.