Panama Papers: Fianna Fail says Frank Flannery must be held to account

TDs vow to use Dáil committees to pursue Irish involvement in tax avoidance

“Big business and wealthy people are paying less and less into the State coffers with the result that there is less to spend on public services,” said Independent TD Mick Wallace. Photograph: Eric Luke

“Big business and wealthy people are paying less and less into the State coffers with the result that there is less to spend on public services,” said Independent TD Mick Wallace. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Fianna Fáil has called on Frank Flannery to answer questions arising from the Panama Papers, following publication yesterday of details about the financing of a London house purchase in the 1990s.

Demanding “clarity” from Mr Flannery, Seán Fleming said: “We need assurances that any instances that warrant it are fully investigated by the appropriate Irish authorities,” he said.

Meanwhile, People before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett said: “Frank Flannery is a leading figure associated with Fine Gael and he has a lot of questions to answer.”

A Fine Gael spokeswoman said that the party had no comment, while the Taoiseach’s spokesman also declined to comment. Several Fine Gael TDs did not respond to requests for comment.

Several TDs have said that they will seek to use Dáil committees to pursue any Irish involvement in tax avoidance that has been exposed by the Panama Papers.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he would seek to bring in Irish legal and accountancy firms to a Dáil committee to inquire whether they have facilitated tax avoidance schemes.

Mr Boyd-Barrett said: “The Dáil and the finance committee have a responsibility to get to the bottom of it.”

Wexford Independent Mick Wallace, who was successful in using the Dáil to raise a number of policing issues in the last Dáil, also said he would pursue the controversies raised.

“I guarantee you I will be raising it. The trend at the moment is unsustainable. Big business and wealthy people are paying less and less into the State coffers with the result that there is less to spend on public services,” Mr Wallace said.

‘Game is up’

Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clerkin said that TDs should seek to question the “army of professional enablers” who assist in corporate and individual tax avoidance.

“These are the things that parliaments can do,” Mr Clerkin said.

‘Immediate investigation’

“The public interest demands an immediate Revenue investigation and the bringing into the public light of as much information as possible,” the party’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said in a statement. “The Irish ‘Panama Papers’ could be crucial in rooting out tax avoiders if the political will exists.”

The Revenue Commissioners indicated that they would seek to use any new information provided by the leaked papers to investigate possible tax evasion.

In a statement in response to questions from The Irish Times, Revenue said it would “strive to avail in full of any emerging information in relation to suspected tax evasion, including offshore tax evasion, and will seek such information in the most efficient and effective manner . . . Revenue will avail of all sources of information that could assist it in this work.”