‘No evidence of wrongdoing’ before IBRC inquiry - Kenny

Taoiseach says Government is bringing investigation ‘to a different level’

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny broke his silence on the IBRC controversies.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said there is “no evidence of wrongdoing” ahead of the widened inquiry into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which has been upgraded to a Commission of Investigation.

Speaking in Dublin city centre on Thursday afternoon, Mr Kenny made his first public comment on the controversy since Independent TD Catherine Murphy’s claims in the Dáil last week about businessman Denis O’Brien’s banking arrangements.

“Yesterday we had a very comprehensive Cabinet meeting, including a discussion and a decision to bring this to a different level of independence and authority and objectivity by establishing a Commission of Investigation,” he said.

“I think that’s the right thing to do. I think it allows for a justice of the court to oversee as the sole member (of the) Commission of Investigation to deal with the issues, about which there is no evidence of wrongdoing, I have to say.”

Asked why he had not spoken about the issue until now, Mr Kenny said he “listened to a lot of hysteria about recalling the Dáil” when the issue was something over which the Dáil had no control.

Letter of apology from Minister Michael Noonan

Minutes of IBRC meeting

‘Staunch defender’

“I’ve always been a very staunch defender about the right of elected representatives in the Dáil to be able to speak their minds, say their piece, with responsibility,” he said.

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.

Mr O’Brien has strongly denied the claim. The High Court clarified this week that media could report Ms Murphy’s comments in the Dáil.

Asked if he regretted not upgrading the investigation sooner, Mr Kenny said he did not. Events had overtaken the Government’s original plan to have a review carried out quickly by the special liquidator overseen by a judge, he added.

Claims and counter-claims

“Given the fact that you are likely to have lots of claims and counter-claims, I think the best thing now is to follow the decision made by Government and have the Commission of Investigation and let the Justice deal with that under his own direction and authority.”

Asked if the public should have concern about the extent of Mr O’Brien’s power and influence in Irish society, Mr Kenny said: “Obviously there are regulations and rules governing the ownership of media outlets and communications, and that’s a matter that the Minister for Communications (Alex White) keeps under observation.

“There are legislative conditions set down here. So I wouldn’t comment on an individual in particular but I do note that the Justice in his decision did say that any individual is entitled to privacy, but that clearly in particular circumstances the public good can override the requirement that that might apply.”

On Wednesday Mr Justice Donald Binchy published a redacted judgment setting out its reasons for granting an injunction to Mr O’Brien and IBRC against RTÉ.