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Alex White: 'Sinn Féin operates on smears ... they can't be taken seriously'

Labour and Sinn Féin clashed over the Siteserv review … again.

Updated: 15.11

THE CONTROVERSIAL SITESERV sale came up in the Dáil again today.

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín raised the issue during Leaders’ Questions, saying the review would be “incapable” of assuaging public concerns over the Siteserv sale.

peadar Peadar Tóibín

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced the terms of reference into the review by KPMG of transactions carried out by IBRC prior to the appointment of the special liquidators.

Retired High Court Judge Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill has been appointed “to monitor any actual or perceived conflicts of interests” as KPMG previously advised Siteserv.

Tóibín said the finance minister failed to express the concerns he had about IBRC in responses he gave to parliamentary questions, referring to him as “Minister ‘hands-off’ Noonan”.

Smears

Communications Minister Alex White took exception to this, saying it was a “a classic tactic of Sinn Féin to level allegations which have no grounds, masquerading as a question”.

White said the special liquidators are “best placed to undertake a review thoroughly and expeditiously given their access to all the book and records of the IBRC”.

He went on to say Sinn Féin “can’t be taken seriously in relations to anything they say whatsoever” because the party operates “on the basis of smear”.

pad

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn was having none of this.

‘Pathetic’

Earlier today, Tánaiste Joan Burton said she is “very happy” a retired judge will oversee the review.

“Following my discussion with the attorney general, I’m very happy that a judge has been appointed to overview the work that’s going to be done by the liquidators,” Burton told reporters this morning.

The Tánaiste said the review is a better option than a tribunal, as it will be completed by the end of August.

We don’t want to move back to ten-year tribunals which cost the country a huge amount of money and, very often, people have forgotten what they were about by the time they report.

She said it’s “appropriate” that a the retired judge will address any conflicts of interest, should they arise.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Burton’s comments were “pathetic”, adding that he doesn’t know what the Labour party stands for anymore.

Action Plan For Jobs. Pictured Tanaist Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Martin said Burton told him last week she wanted an independent investigation to take place.

Basically the Labour party has caved into Fine Gael yet again.

Martin added that the terms of reference for the review are “narrow”, saying the scope “almost tees it up for a particular outcome”.

Shareholders

When asked by TheJournal.ie about the issues journalists had in attempting to search the Siteserv share register earlier this week, Burton said that’s an issue the media can take up with the company providing the service.

She said journalists should ask Computershare if there’s a way they could give the media “more ease of access” to the information.

Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG will review all transactions which occurred between 21 January 2009 (the date of the nationalisation of IBRC), and 7 February 2013 (the date the liquidators were appointed).

The review will cover transactions that resulted in a capital loss to IBRC of at least €10 million during that period.

Siteserv was sold to the Denis O’Brien-owned Millington by IBRC in 2012 for €45 million. The bank had given Siteserv a loan of €150 million, meaning the bank wrote off €105 million and the State got back less than €50 million.

At the same time, shareholders were paid €5 million.

We tried to find out who Siteserv’s shareholders are … it didn’t go to plan

“Get off the stage. Get off the stage”: Noonan rounds on RTÉ in row over Siteserv FOIs

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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