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The opposition are worried the IBRC inquiry won't be out until AFTER the election

The Taoiseach has said it’s not possible to issue a deadline for the Commission of Investigation.

Mary Lou McDonald is among the opposition politicians meeting with Michael Noonan this evening.
Mary Lou McDonald is among the opposition politicians meeting with Michael Noonan this evening.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated 9.33pm

THE TAOISEACH HAS said that it’s not possible to issue a deadline for the inquiry into certain transactions by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

Enda Kenny has said that once the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation are approved by the Dáil its workings will be a matter for the judge overseeing it.

The inquiry is being set up to investigate allegations made in the Dáil that businessman Denis O’Brien was among a number of large borrowers who received preferential interest rates from the former Anglo Irish Bank. It will also examine the controversial Siterserv transaction.

All the opposition parties have called for, at the very least, an interim report by October amid concerns that the commission’s report could be delayed until after the next general election, which some believe could be held as early as this November.

Draft terms of reference published last week require the judge chairing the inquiry – likely to be the retired High Court justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill - to report by 31 December.

Kenny told RTÉ in Castlebar that “once you set up a commission of investigation you cannot politicise it”. He added:

“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.

“So that’s always an issue, that’s why government wanted, in the beginning, to have all the files collated by August but, as I said, events overtook that and now we’re having a Commission of Investigation.”

File Photo MICHAEL NOONAN AND his government colleagues have been accused of having disdain for the poor after the finance minister claimed there were people who would never take up jobs because they were allergic to work. Michael Noonan is meeting with opposition leaders this evening Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Kenny was speaking as Finance Minister Michael Noonan is this evening meeting with opposition politicians who want changes to the terms of reference.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie after she met with Noonan, Independent TD Catherine Murphy said the Minister was encouraging further dialogue with opposition parties on the inquiry after this evening’s meetings.
She said her main concerns involved the relationship between IBRC and the Department itself, something which she said the Minister accepted, although it may not be possible to resolve this within the scope of the IBRC transactions inquiry.
Murphy was told that the €10 million threshold for transactions is the mandatory part of the inquiry, but the judge involved will be able to examine individual transactions lower than this threshold, or cases where a single person reached the €10 million threshold
“The public will be well served if this inquiry goes smoothly,” she said, adding that adequate resources balanced with a spending limit will be key.

90377686 Catherine Murphy Source: Photocall Ireland

Sinn Féin says the inquiry should examine all IBRC transactions that resulted in a loss to the taxpayer of at least €1 million, while Fianna Fáil wants the threshold set at €5 million. The current terms stipulate that only transactions that resulted in a loss of €10 million or more can be examined.

There have also been calls for the inquiry to examine the uneasy relationship between the Department of Finance and IBRC. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the role of the special liquidator after the bank was liquidated two years ago should also be examined.

“We believe that the activities and the transactions of the special liquidator right up to the present day need to be captured in the terms of the investigation,” she told Today with Seán O’Rourke earlier.

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“KPMG had released a report in March of this year and at that stage some 22 billion [euro] of transactions, some 64 different transactions had been undertaken; those need to be examined.”

Renua said it was astonished that Noonan is setting up an inquiry which will not examine his role, if any, in the controversy and that of the Department of Finance.

“This is the politics of Hamlet minus the Prince  … and Hamlet too for that matter,” the party said in a statement released this evening.

The issue will dominate Dáil proceedings this week with the debate on the terms of reference due to begin after 5pm tomorrow and scheduled to go on until midnight with further debate pencilled in for Wednesday.

The final terms of reference are likely to be signed-off by cabinet when it meets tomorrow.

Read: Alan Dukes was ‘furious’ with Michael Noonan for mentioning ‘criminality’

Read: I want proof, not a pat on the head and to be told: ‘It’s fine, go away’ – Catherine Murphy

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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