Leo Varadkar says Catherine Murphy ‘not a cavalier TD’

Minister defends timescale for IBRC inquiry, says work must be carried out properly

 Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the Commission of Investigation had to be carried out properly. Photograph: Collins

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the Commission of Investigation had to be carried out properly. Photograph: Collins

 

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said Independent deputy Catherine Murphy is responsible and “not a cavalier TD”.

Asked if he believed Ms Murphy was “peddling” false information, as businessman Denis O’Brien has claimed, Mr Varadkar said he did not know and no one knew for sure.

“I’m sure she believes that the allegations she’s making are true otherwise she wouldn’t make them,” Mr Varadkar said.

“She’s not a cavalier TD. She’s someone who knows her stuff and is very responsible in my experience.

“At the same time, those against whom allegations have been made are saying that the information has been stolen and altered.”

Mr Varadkar said it was very important parliament “should not become a place where personal information that potentially has been stolen should be aired in public”.

Ms Murphy claimed in the Dáil last week that businessman Denis O’Brien was paying a 1.25 per cent interest rate to Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, when he could have been expected to pay a 7.5 per cent rate.

Audio from the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar interview

Mr O’Brien has strongly denied the claim.

Speaking at the Mater hospital in Dublin on Thursday, Mr Varadkar said he hoped the Commission of Investigation would “satisfy and assuage” public concerns about what did or did not happen at the IBRC.

Asked if he was confident the report would be in place before the next General Election, he said previous Commissions of Investigations had reported on time.

In others, the judge involved had asked for an extension. If that happened it could not really be refused, he said, although he thought the December deadline was realistic.

He said the Commission of Investigation, announced on Wednesday night, was being set up because of heightened public concerns about IBRC transactions.

Responding to Opposition criticism about the move, he said: “I know the Opposition demanded it, now they’re criticising the fact that it’s been set up because it’ll take time”.

However, he said a Commission of Investigation had to be carried out properly.

The original plan had been to have a review carried out relatively quickly by the special liquidator overseen by a judge, he said.

“That became impossible because number one there were additional allegations, there was heightened concern and then the potential conflict of interest arose because the Special Liquidator was involved in litigation.

“So circumstances changed and as a result the Government had to make a change of policy.”

Asked if he believed Taoiseach Enda Kenny should make a public comment on the matter, Mr Varadkar said: “It’s a financial matter and the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is the person who should speak to the nation on it.

“But I imagine the Taoiseach will be asked about it in the Dáil next week if not by the media in the meantime.”

Mr Varadkar was speaking ahead of the launch of the National Rare Diseases Unit.