RTÉ programme may lead to criminal charges, Taoiseach says

Kenny accepts FF offer to facilitate enactment of standards Bill before election

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the annual turning on of the Christmas tree lights in Leinster House on Tuesday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the annual turning on of the Christmas tree lights in Leinster House on Tuesday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Criminal charges may follow from the RTE Investigates programme, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil.

He was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who asked the outcome of an internal review after then minister for the environment Phil Hogan “suppressed” investigations initiated by his predecessor John Gormley into planning irregularities in a number of counties.

He asked what happened to the review that replaced the county investigations and the outcome of the review by a barrister of allegations of irregularities in Co Donegal.

Legislative response

Mr Martin said the legislative response and its timing was crucial to the issues raised in the RTÉ documentary on standards in public office and he expressed concern that none of the related legislation the Taoiseach earlier promised to the House would proceed because of the intervening general election.

Mr Kenny, who stressed that the Dáil would return in January, said: “Nobody in public life should be involved in what we saw in the programme last night.”

He added: “I do not wish to say more because it may well be that criminal charges may follow from the Garda Síochána.”

He reiterated comments he made to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that the Planning Bill and the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill would follow five other Acts the Coalition had implemented relating to the powers of the Ombudsman, protected disclosures, restoration of the Freedom of Information Act, the banning of corporate donations and regulation of lobbying.

Planning Regulation Bill

He said Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin hoped to bring the Planning Regulation Bill to Cabinet next week, which would then be published if approved. It aims to ensure proper oversight of planning issues.

Mr Martin pressed him to commit to the enactment of the legislation during the Dáil and Seanad’s final month in operation, in January, which the Fianna Fáil leader said his party would co-operate with.

Mr Kenny said he accepted the offer and “the whips can work it out”.

Earlier, he told Mr Adams Mr Howlin would bring forward legislation to set up a public sector standards commissioner to replace the Standards in Public Office Commission and oversee the reform, complaints and investigations process.

Mr Adams said that three years after the final Mahon report when Mr Justice Mahon said “corruption in Irish political life is both endemic and systemic”, the Government had not implemented his recommendation to appoint an independent planning regulator.