Possibility of tribunal into IBRC write-offs ‘firmly’ ruled out

Senior sources insist any chance of tribunal of inquiry ‘quickly and firmly’ rejected

The Cabinet met on Tuesday to consider how to resolve  legal difficulties with the commission of inquiry into transactions by IBRC (offices pictured above).  The meeting discussed the possibility of setting up a tribunal of inquiry but senior sources insisted it was “quickly and firmly” ruled out. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Cabinet met on Tuesday to consider how to resolve legal difficulties with the commission of inquiry into transactions by IBRC (offices pictured above). The meeting discussed the possibility of setting up a tribunal of inquiry but senior sources insisted it was “quickly and firmly” ruled out. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Ministers on Tuesday discussed the possibility of establishing a tribunal of inquiry into write-offs by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation - but such a plan was firmly ruled out.

The Cabinet met to consider how to resolve the legal difficulties with the commission of inquiry into transactions by the former bank.

The meeting discussed the possibility of setting up a tribunal of inquiry but senior sources insisted it was “quickly and firmly” ruled out.

Ministers agreed the primary focus was to work on drafting legislation to address the confidentiality and privacy concerns raised by Mr Justice Brian Cregan.

Mr Justice Cregan, who is leading the investigation, has said he does not have adequate powers to complete the task given to him by the Government and needs legislative change to allow him to continue.

He has also asked for more resources, including the assistance of another judge, to help with his inquiry.

No deadline

No final decision on how to proceed was agreed at Cabinet, and no deadline was imposed on finding one.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny briefed Ministers on the contact his department has had with the Attorney General and Mr Justice Cregan.

Mr Kenny said a number of issues had been identified that needed to be resolved.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “There have been a number of difficulties. There have been a number of proposed solutions, and the pros and cons of each are being examined.”

Mr Kenny is now to write to the Opposition leaders outlining the status of the investigation.

A spokesman insisted consultation with the Opposition leaders was necessary to ensure the best remedy was found.

‘Several years’

Mr Justice Cregan has warned an investigation into all 38 transactions which led to a loss of more than €10 million to the State, as had been requested by the Government, would take “several years”.

He said he does not have adequate powers to complete the task and needs legislative change to allow him to continue. He has additionally asked for another judge to help him, and for more resources to help with his inquiry.

Mr Justice Cregan also proposes prioritising a number of transactions that led to the largest write-offs, which he claims could be completed in less than two years.

The total value of the write-offs of all 38 transactions is €1.9 billon.

Six transactions involve write-offs greater than €100 million, the judge said. The combined total of these six transactions is about €859 million.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin insisted the Government is anxious to get these matters resolved as quickly as possible.

He said: “I think there’s been some speculation that we might, in response to the judge’s request, look at a modular approach - to take, if you like, the most controversial issues, like Siteserv, early, so that these matters can be fully addressed, rather than have a very long period of wait before we have any conclusion.”