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Catherine Murphy says she won't give up on pursuing Siteserv truth

The Siteserv inquiry is having problems, but Catherine Murphy “is not giving up”.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

ISSUES OF CONFIDENTIALITY are still hampering the Siteserv commission of investigation – but Deputy Catherine Murphy says she’s not giving up on pursuing the truth.

The latest interim report of the IBRC/Siteserv Commission of Investigation was released this evening.

Regarding the release of the documents on a Friday, Deputy Murphy said: ”It never ceases to amaze me how these things always arrive on a long weekend.”

She added that this is no reflection on the judge.

“The thing that springs to mind – could it be media management?” she asked.

The commission submitted its first interim report to the Taoiseach on 13 November 2015.

At that time, the report requested certain amendments to its terms of reference, and informed the Government that certain legislative changes were “required to overcome legal difficulties in respect of banker customer confidentiality and legal professional privilege”.

In the previous report it said the special liquidators of IBRC “asserted a duty of confidentiality over all the documents submitted to them by the commission which contained banker-customer information”.

In addition, the Department of Finance also asserted a duty of confidentiality in respect of documents provided by the IBRC to the department.

“This is still the position,” says this evening’s report.

Accordingly, the Commission remains unable to receive into evidence the vast bulk of the documents furnished to it by both the Special Liquidators and the Department of Finance and is unable to proceed with its investigation into the Siteserv transaction, or any other transaction, without legislative change.

The cost incurred by the commission – which includes salaries, legal costs and rent – stands at €631,000.

The costs incurred by the special liquidators in assisting the commission are at €2.7m.

‘I’m not going to give up on this’

2/6/2015 Denis O Brien Court Cases Source: Photocall Ireland

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy’s investigative work led to the commission of investigation.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening, she said that she was unsurprised at the timing of the release of the documents.

She said she has been trying to pursue the issues of privilege and confidentiality in relation to how they’re affecting the investigation, but has “been pretty much told that a government has to be in place to more or less give direction to actually put those pieces of legislation together”.

“It’s clear that the inquiry is still actually reasonably active in that it’s doing work that narrows the scope,” she added.

“It is focusing exclusively on Siteserv as opposed to the other very large transactions,” she said. “I think that’s probably a sensible and prudent way to proceed at the moment. But I think it’s going to require some political will now at this stage.”

“I have no intention of giving up any time soon on this,” said Murphy.

I never intended this to be a long, expensive saga and if it is a question of having to agree new terms of reference that narrow it down to a smaller number of large transactions, well there needs to be a bit of consultation, we need to agree those.

She met with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the issue earlier in the year, as did Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams. “I think we all made it clear what was needed,” she said.

On the subject of the same issues reappearing in this interim report, Murphy said that “it’s very clear that what’s happening in this enquiry is they are trying to work round that and do meaningful work so that when those pieces of legislation do arise the will be able to get to the rest of  the work quickly”. 

“You would have to question why it was stretched out,” she added. “And I felt at the time that that the government wanted it to go away until after the general election. It’s not going to go away until it is actually dealt with.”

Murphy said she feels “frustrated by it”.

My whole motivation around this was did the taxpayer or did the citizen get the best value for those distressed assets? Until this enquiry happens, until there is a meaningful report we won’t get [that information].

She noted that the report also discusses issues around the stock exchange and possible insider trading.

“I’m not surprised with a lot of what’s in it,” said Murphy.

Read: There are a LOT of problems with the Siteserv inquiry>

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