Motion to suspend Foley approved

 

The House approved a motion suspending the Independent Kerry North TD, Mr Denis Foley, for 14 days for breaching the Ethics in Public Office Act.

In September 1997, Mr Foley, then a Fianna Fail TD, voted on a Dail motion relating to the Moriarty tribunal. At the time, he had an Ansbacher account. Mr Foley resigned from the Fianna Fail parliamentary party earlier this year, when it was revealed that he held the account.

The suspension was on the recommendation of the Committee on Members' Interests, whose chairman, Mr Tony Killeen (FF, Clare), said the only matter the committee was empowered to consider was the alleged breach of the Act.

Mr Jim O'Keeffe (FG, Cork South West) said the committee was marking new territory. He was glad there had been a lot of comment on the report, and it was useful to have a discussion on it. "I think it is important to point out that the committee was not involved in penalising Deputy Foley for his Ansbacher account, and was not involved in any criminal or revenue matter arising therefrom." Mr Brendan Howlin (Labour, Wexford) said many people had talked about slaps in the wrist and inadequate penalties.

The committee, he added, was presented with a statutory range of penalties decided on by the Oireachtas. "If people want to revisit that - I certainly believe it is time to do that - but that was the range of penalties available to us. I think the decision of the committee, to any unbiased observer, in the full knowledge of all the facts, would accept that it was a very fair determination."