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After several rows, Sinn Féin votes against IBRC inquiry - but it's still happening

Michael Noonan said he’s “confident” he has addressed the opposition’s concerns.

Updated: 4.15pm

A VOTE ON the terms of reference of the commission of investigation into IBRC has been passed by 119 votes to 20.

Sinn Féin, the Anti-Austerity Alliance and Renua opposed the motion, while Fianna Fáil and several independents supported it.

Richard Boyd-Barrett and Tommy Broughan – who both raised concerns about the terms of reference earlier – voted No, as did former Labour junior minister Róisín Shortall and Finian McGrath.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 at 4.09.49 PM Source: Oireachtas.ie

Speaking just before the vote Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he is “confident” he has addressed the concerns of the opposition in relation to the terms of reference.

He stated that 31 December 2015 is an “appropriate deadline” for the commission’s report “baring in mind the nature of the review”.

The minister also confirmed that retired High Court Judge Daniel O’Keeffe will chair the inquiry.

The commission, which will cost an estimated €4 million, will look at transactions where there was a loss of at least €10 million. It will cover the period from 21 January 2009 to 7 February 2013, when IBRC was wound down.

The inquiry will look into whether Noonan or the department of finance were kept informed of certain transactions and investigate any deals that may have involved a preferential interest rate for certain clients.

It also will look at internal governance at the now liquidated bank and at its wealth management unit, following a request from Fianna Fáil.

Noonan added that the commission has the power to “investigate any transaction of any value that gives rise or is likely to give rise to public concerns, regardless of loss”.

The full terms of reference can be read here.

Earlier, Charlie Flanagan launched a staunch defence of Finance Minister Michael Noonan as the Dáil debate on the IBRC commission of investigation continues.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 at 11.29.26 AM Noonan, Flanagan and Paschal Donohoe Source: Oireachtas.ie

The Foreign Affairs Minister said Noonan should be praised for helping “to lift this country of its knees”, describing him as “no doubt, the best minister of finance since the foundation of the state”.

Flanagan said members of the opposition realise Noonan is “an asset to the government and an asset to Fine Gael” and someone “they need to throw a lot of mud at in the hope that some it will stick”.

He praised independent TD Catherine Murphy for her work in relation IBRC, saying she “should be commended for her dedication to public service”.

Flanagan was far-less complimentary when it came to other members of the opposition, directing particular ire at Fianna Fáil.

He said there was “endemic and rampant cronyism” in the party during the Celtic Tiger years, noting that Fianna Fáil members often socialised with property developers on “golf courses and racecourse tents”".

Screenshot 2015-06-10 at 11.25.14 AM Charlie Flanagan Source: Oireachtas.ie

Flanagan said the opposition will continue to push a “shopping list” of amendments to the terms of reference “because it makes good politics, it makes good copy”, but the inquiry should be allowed to get underway “as speedily as possible”.

Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming bit back, saying Fine Gael has “done nothing” to investigate the “corruption” relating to some of its own members confirmed by the Moriarty Tribunal.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 at 11.26.19 AM Seán Fleming Source: Oireachtas.ie

When Flanagan challenged Fleming to “say that outside the house”, the Fianna Fáil TD told him to “have your cronies send me legal letters”.

He added that there seemed to be “one law for the rich and a different law for everyone else”.

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the issue had become a “political football” for the opposition.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 at 11.36.11 AM Source: Oireachtas.ie

She also praised Murphy and noted the government may need to change the way departments respond to parliamentary questions.

Doherty added:

We currently have a situation where a source can claim that an individual has two heads and an insider confirms it an suddenly it’s true.

United Left TD Richard Boyd-Barrett said the debate was “not about playing politics”, adding:

“The failure by the government to act on the Moriarty Tribunal raises very, very serious questions.”

The government has been dragged kicking and screaming over a four year period to finally launch the investigation.

Pearse Doherty said he’s “sure as I can be” the documents from which he read claims about Denis O’Brien’s dealings with IBRC into the Dáil record “are true and genuine documents”.

In a comment to RTÉ, the special liquidators of IBRC said Doherty’s allegations are “wholly inaccurate and misleading”.

Doherty added that he made a “load of different claims” in his speech and called on the special liquidator to clarify which, if any, parts are incorrect.

If there’s claims from the special liquidator that I misrepresented anything then let the special liquidator point out exactly what that is and I’m willing to correct the record of the Dáil.

Doherty said there was additional information in the documents that he chose to not put on the public record.

During Leaders’ Questions earlier, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said he could give “absolute assurance that the issues raised [by Doherty] are within the terms of reference”.

When Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he wants written confirmation of this, Brtuon noted that “categorical assurance” has been given by the Attorney General that the claims will be investigated.

Screenshot 2015-06-10 at 12.12.02 PM Gerry Adams Source: Oireachtas.ie

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams called for the period covered by the inquiry to be extended to 12 March 2015.

He also noted Burton had been made aware of the sale of Siteserv by IBRC to the Denis O’Brien-owned Millington in March 2012.

When Adams pushed extending the dates under examination, Bruton said Sinn Féin is “scrambling around” to find some reason to vote against the investigation.

Read: Pearse Doherty on latest Denis O’Brien allegations: Prove I’m wrong

Read: Dáil hears new claims about Denis O’Brien’s dealings with IBRC

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