Creighton questions timescale for IBRC investigation

Renua leader says issue now ‘closed off’, calls for deadline of September 1st for report

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton who is  concerned the inquiry, which is set to report by the end of the year, would take the Government  beyond the next general election. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton who is concerned the inquiry, which is set to report by the end of the year, would take the Government beyond the next general election. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton has questioned the timeframe proposed by the Government for the Commission of Investigation into certain activities and transactions at IBRC.

She said if the inquiry met the deadline of December this would probably take the Government beyond the next general election, meaning the issue was now effectively closed off.

Ms Creighton had earlier said she would oppose any inquiry which did not have a specific timeline of September 1st. She contrasted this timescale with the inquiry into the Lehman brothers in the United States which was conducted in six months.

“My biggest concern with this is the length of time,” she told RTÉ Radio. “As we know from the Fennelly commission which is going on now for 14 months, these types of inquiries shut down debate and discussion about really important issues.

“We have seen the Taoiseach refuse to answer any questions about the circumstances of the resignation or departure of the Garda commissioner for 14 months now.

“I think that it’s inexcusable that a seven months period of inquiry is envisaged as we know it will probably take a lot longer than that.”

Ms Creighton said it was essential the Commission of Investigation had access to the confidential banking arrangements of account holders.

Ms pointed out that the inquiry meant that any debate about Denis O’Brien, IBRC and Siteserv would now be effectively “shut down”.

“Parliamentary questions are a hugely powerful weapon in the Oireachtas, a powerful element of our democracy,” she said. “You can ask questions but while it is under investigation the reality is that no answers will be given and that is exactly what has happened in relation to the Fennelly commission.”

Ms Creighton said her party disagreed with Government’s decision to set a €10 million threshold for transactions to be examined.

“Information we have received about transactions within IBRC suggests that it would be in the public interest if the threshold were set at €1 million. Any threshold that is higher than €1million will only enhance public cynicism,” she said.

The Cabinet published the terms of reference of the investigation on Wednesday. It will investigate an estimated 40 transactions by IBRC involving sums of €10 million or more.

The Government hopes the commission will report its findings by Christmas.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy welcomed the news that the Government were dealing with proposals to scrap the current KPMG review and would instead initiate a full Commission of Investigation.

Ms Murphy said the proposed KPMG review was “fundamentally flawed” due to the conflicts of interest regarding the appointment of Kieran Wallace from KPMG to conduct the review.

“KPMG had specific involvement in the Siteserv deal and other transactions within the IBRC. I also had significant concerns regarding the relationship between Kieran Wallace and some of the senior debtors of IBRC and its impact on the independence of such a review,” she said.

Ms Murphy said there is a “dysfunctional relationship” between the Department of Finance and the IBRC senior management team.

She said the circumstances of some large transactions within IBRC, has raised serious concerns in the public interest and an independent investigation is the only appropriate course of action.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Government’s decision to establish a Commission of Investigation represented “a major U-turn”.

“The Government had no choice but to accede to public and political pressure for a Commission of Investigation,” he said.

Mr Adams said the investigation must be comprehensive and deal with all the issues.

“The terms of reference should be debated and approved by the Dáil before they are finalised.”

“There needs to be a tight timeframe for any Commission of Investigation as there will be strong suspicions that the Government will seek to push the findings back until after the General Election. That cannot be allowed to happen.”