PAC not to interview civil servant who made allegations of tax evasion against politicians

McDonald says mechanism to investigate claims must be found by Government

 Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein is disappointed and concerned at the development. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein is disappointed and concerned at the development. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee has decided not to interview a serving civil servant who has made allegations of tax evasion against a number of former senior politicians.

Several weeks ago, civil servant Gerard Ryan sent members of the committee a dossier setting out the allegations that former ministers had used Ansbacher accounts to evade tax.

Mr Ryan sent a letter to the committee in recent days offering to appear before it in private session. He suggested that he could be accompanied by another civil servant and a lawyer.

However, members of the committee have been given strong legal advice that they should not allow Mr Ryan to give evidence as the matters involved fell outside of its remit.

At a private session, committee members decided not to interview Mr Ryan, a move which effectively appears to wind up its involvement with the issue.

It is understood that two members of the committee, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin and Independent Shane Ross, disagreed with the decision not to hear from Mr Ryan.

Naming names

Fine Gael TD John Deasy said that by naming individuals in the Dáil, Ms McDonald ended whatever chance the committee had of conducting an investigation into the issue.

The Revenue Commissioners informed the Public Accounts Committee that all files drawn up by Mr Ryan had been fully examined and followed up. A transcript of the meeting between the committee and Revenue was sent to Mr Ryan, who was asked to respond. Mr Ryan then requested a hearing in private in his reply.

His letter says: “As you know I have been advised that the disclosures already made by me to the committee are protected disclosures under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. I would appreciate if the committee would meet me in private session so that I can respond appropriately to the issues referred to above.”

Ms McDonald said she was disappointed and concerned at the development.

“The allegations made are of a most serious nature,” she said. “They concern alleged tax evasion by senior political figures, alleged political obstruction by a succession of Ministers, and questions around previous investigations by the relevant authorities.

“Despite this, it would now appear that there is no parliamentary mechanism through which these matters can be examined.”