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Enda insists the Anglo loans inquiry won't collapse

The Taoiseach said he received a letter from Judge Brian Cregan last Friday about the difficulties the inquiry had encountered.

THE TAOISEACH HAS said he does not expect the inquiry into the sale of certain loans by IBRC to collapse.

Enda Kenny told the Dáil he hopes an interim report from the judge chairing the Commission of Investigation will be available at the “earliest possible date” and said he hopes it will be available some time next week.

Cregan informed the Taoiseach last Friday that he could not proceed with his probe because of issues surrounding confidentiality and legal privilege.

The inquiry is examining the sale of loans by IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, where there was a loss of at least €10 million to the taxpayer, including the controversial sale of Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O’Brien.

Earlier, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that Judge Brian Cregan had requested that the cabinet delay any decision on how to proceed until he submits his interim report.

“The work of the Attorney General continues and it is a question of taking a final decision after some consultation with Judge Cregan to establish what precise type of change would meet his requirements,” Noonan told reporters today.

Kenny said at Leaders’ Questions that he could not give Judge Cregan a deadline, but stated he “understands it will be a relevant short time — say next week — I would hope that to be so”.

Stumbling block

The Taoiseach said that he was first made aware that legal issues had arisen last Friday when he received a letter from the judge outlining problems relating to confidential documents under legal privilege.

However, Kenny outlined that Judge Cregan did make prior contact with department officials and the Attorney General last Thursday in relation to the problems encountered and he put them in writing to the Taoiseach the next day.

In the letter, published by the government today, Judge Cregan outlines that he is preparing an interim report on the work done by the commission to date and the legal issues and obstacles it has encountered.

He also sought permission for a time extension to carry out its work.

Kenny told the Dáil that further legal advice is required from the Office of the Attorney General about the legal options available to them going forward. He confirmed that work is already underway as to what steps can be taken.

First time judge has reached this decision 

This is the first time a judge has come to such a determination that he can’t go any further in relation to documents under the Commission of Investigation Act 2004, Kenny said.

The Taoiseach said that during other commissions of inquiry, documents of similar confidentiality, have been allowed under the guise of the public interest.

“I don’t think anybody wants a Tribunal of Inquiry,” said Kenny.

He said in the past inquiries have cost the tax payer millions and stated it was best to wait for the interim report before deciding how to proceed. Kennys said he wanted Judge Cregan to “go further… everyone does,” he said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams both asked the Taoiseach if the Attorney General flagged the legal issues with the government prior to this.

“The Attorney General is looking at some of the options,” he replied.

- with reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

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