Oireachtas may vote on disclosure of report on Seán FitzPatrick trial

Director of Corporate Enforcement has said he would release report if offered protection

Director of Corporate Enforcement Ian Drennan has previously said he would  release the report  if he was offered protection. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Director of Corporate Enforcement Ian Drennan has previously said he would release the report if he was offered protection. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Oireachtas may be asked to vote to give a committee powers to compel Director of Corporate Enforcement Ian Drennan to release an undisclosed report into why the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick collapsed.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation has written to Peter Finnegan, clerk of the Dáil, as it attempts to begin a process that would allow it gain access to the report from Mr Drennan.

Mr Drennan earlier this year withdrew his offer to submit a report on the factors leading to Mr FitzPatrick being acquitted in 2017.

His move not to release the 415-page report on the investigation came after the committee refused to provide him with protections against potential legal actions taken by individuals named in it.

Protection

The committee, through its clerk Martin Hughes, has now written to Mr Finnegan asking that it be given the power under the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013 to compel Mr Drennan to provide the report.

Mr Drennan has previously said he would do so if the committee invoked the Acts and certain sections within it which would afford him protection.

The Dáil procedures committee must first recommend that the Dáil give such powers, and would separately have to give its consent for a direction to be given in the specific instance of Mr Drennan’s report.

The Dáil and Seanad must give the committee the power to “send for persons, papers and records”.

TDs have previously said a mechanism must be found for the Oireachtas to gain access to the report and provide Mr Drennan with some immunity. Billy Kelleher, the Fianna Fáil business spokesman who is also running for the European Parliament in Ireland South, said it was “an outrageous affront to parliamentary democracy that we cannot see a report into why one of the longest criminal trials in the history of the State collapsed”.

Submission

In its letter to Mr Finnegan, the committee said it is “necessary, in relation to matters of public policy or public administration relevant to the committee’s remit, to have sight of the submission offered by the Director of Corporate Enforcement in order that the committee can obtain a more complete understanding of the events and roles played by all relevant parties leading up to the trial and acquittal of Mr FitzPatrick”.

It also notes that it is an offence to release documents given to committees in such a fashion unless authority has been granted to do so, and adds that it is “important that the committee retains control of and determines the extent to which the submission should be published and the timing of any such publication”.