Tribunal to investigate contributions by Dunnes Stores not ruled out

 

THE Government has not ruled out establishing a tribunal to investigate contributions made by Dunnes to politicians and political parties, the Taoiseach said.

Mr Bruton said it had first taken what it believed were the most effective possible steps to establish the facts arising from media allegations.

"We are determined to do everything possible to get to the bottom of the allegations. If, as a last resort, it becomes necessary to establish a tribunal under the relevant legislation, that will be done.

"It will, however, be done on the basis of the most reliable possible available information and it will be constructed in such a way as to ensure that it can do its work quickly and with the least possible public expense.

Mr Bruton was speaking during the resumed debate on the PD private member's motion calling for the setting up of a tribunal to investigate the issue. He said the Government would take whatever additional steps were necessary following the publication of the details of the Price Waterhouse report.

These would establish any further facts that needed to be established and any improprieties that might be brought to light, either on the part of elected representatives or of public servants, subject to the normal processes of law.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges, and its corresponding committee in the Seanad, was the appropriate body to which to refer, in the first instance, allegations involving impropriety on the part of members of the Oireachtas. "If, for whatever reasons, these committees are unable to establish the facts and deal with the consequences of those facts, there are procedures through which any deficiencies can be remedied."

Mr Bruton said to the best of his knowledge neither Mr Ben Dunne nor any company in which he had or has an interest benefited financially from any decision made by Mr Lowry during his period as Minister. Mr Lowry would make a personal statement to the House next week and would, if required, subsequently make himself available to answer questions before an appropriate committee or subcommittee of the House.

An amendment approving the Government's proposed procedure for dealing with the Price Waterhouse report was passed by 74 votes to 64. This includes its examination by the former Circuit Court judge, Mr Gerard Buchanan, who will report to the Ceann Comhairle and the Dail Committee on Procedure and Privileges.