Opposition raise IBRC inquiry concerns with Noonan

Taoiseach says head of commission ‘will not be dictated to’ by Government

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said she is confident her concerns about the commission of investigation into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) will be addressed.

Speaking after a meeting with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to discuss the terms of reference for the commission, Ms Murphy said she raised the Department of Finance's role in the controversy and the decision to stop the investigation at the point of the liquidation of IRBC.

Ms Murphy said she was assured those would be examined in the judicial inquiry. “He couldn’t give me conclusive answer because they have to go to Cabinet,” she said.

The Independent TD said she did not expect anything glaring to be left out. Ms Murphy said the judge cannot look at every transaction and this needed to be a manageable inquiry.


Mr Noonan was also meeting Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin this evening.

Mr Martin said after the talks the indications are there will be no interim report. But he said Mr Noonan was adamant it would finish by December.

Mr Martin said precedent has shown commissions haveproduced modular reports. “I think there is scope there,” he said.

After her meeting with Mr Noonan, Ms McDonald said the investigation would be worthless without examining the role of the Department of Finance and the Minister.

Ms McDonald said the roll-over and extension of loans and any transaction after June 2013 needed to be included.

She said Mr Noonan listened carefully and said some of those concerns were being looked at. “No credible investigation can exclude the department,” she said, adding that there needed to no foot-dragging on the issue.

Ms McDonald said the Minister vowed to fully resource the commission and there will be full co-operation.

However, she said without the three issues she raised being incorporated into the inquiry Sinn Féin will not have confidence in it.

“The three things I have cited are bottom lines. No investigation will be credible if it excludes the Minister for Finance or the department.

“No investigation will be credible if it stops in 2013 and doesn’t consider transactions by the special liquidator there after,” she said. “No investigation will be credible if it doesn’t explicitly include the method by which extension to loans and roll over loans were carried out.”

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Government will not instruct the judge in charge of the commission how to proceed.

It is likely the commission will be chaired by retired High Court judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Speaking in Castlebar in his Mayo constituency on Monday, Mr Kenny said the terms of reference for the commission of investigation could recommend particular issues were dealt with first.

“Once you set up a commission of investigation you cannot politicise it. Commissions of investigation are a much sharper and more effective way of doing business than tribunals, tribunals in the past that went on for over 10, 12, 14 years,” Mr Kenny said.

“So when you sign off on term of reference for a sole member to operate a commission of investigation you cannot politicise it after that.

“You can of course put into the terms of reference that it would be appropriate to deal with particular issues at an earlier date than others.

“But I think it’s very important to stress that at the same time you cannot dictate to a sole member in charge of a commission on investigation how they should run their business.”

Separately former IBRC chairman Alan Dukeshas reacted angrily to the claim by Ms McDonald that write-downs were granted to wealthy individuals.

The comments come after allegations were raised by Ms Murphy in the Dáil that preferential interest rates were given to some large borrowers, including businessman Denis O’Brien.

Ms McDonald on Monday referred to reports of “verbal arrangements” between very wealthy people and those who ran IBRC.

"Alan Dukes has conceded, I think right at the beginning of this controversy, that there was discounts for very wealthy individuals, very large borrowers," she said.

She was speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.

Responding, Mr Dukes said: “I have not conceded there were write-downs for wealthy individuals.

“This is a complete fabrication on Deputy McDonald’s part and should be identified as such.”

Speaking to reporters later, Ms McDonald insisted she was correct.

“I recall very distinctly that Alan Dukes confirmed from the get-go that discounts were afforded to large borrowers. I think he stated that just as a matter of fact,” she said.

“He said it several times. He’s on the public record. He did that many print and radio interviews I can’t pinpoint the exact one. But I think if you check the public record he made that point and as I recall it he made it several times.”

She added: “It’s not a fabrication to say that Alan Dukes stated that discounts had been afforded.”

Meanwhile, the Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP), which has powers to investigate alleged abuses of privilege and recommend sanctions, is due to meet on Wednesday.

Mr O'Brien wrote to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett last Tuesday complaining about Ms Murphy's speech about his banking arrangements with IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr O’Brien invoked the Dáil’s Standing Order 59, which entitles a person named in the chamber to make a submission in writing to Mr Barrett.

The Standing Order deals specifically with privilege and what are described in Oireachtas regulations as "utterances in the nature of being defamatory".