Friday 28 October 2016

Taoiseach defends silence over IBRC row and insists full inquiry is the right option

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has defended his week-long silence in the row over IBRC bank, businessman Denis O'Brien, and the High Court hearings over reporting the Dail.

Mr Kenny said yesterday's decision to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the IBRC bank was the right thing to do.

Mr Kenny said he had always defended the right to privileged speech in the Dail that allows TDs to speak out on issues of public importance.

He said he chose not to comment until court deliberations finished.

"There was a lot of hysteria about recalling the Dail to discuss something over which the Dail had no control," Mr Kenny told reporters.

The Taoiseach said up until recently the Government deemed an internal review by the liquidators of IBRC was the best way to find out more about the row over the sale of the Siteserv company to the businessman Denis O'Brien.


But the row over Dail reporting of related issues and the subsequent High Court hearings changed that - and led Cabinet to decide to set up a Commission of Inquiry.

"Events have since overtaken that. So it's right to have an investigation," he said. Mr Kenny was asked if he felt Mr O'Brien had too much power and influence.

He said that there were rules on how much of a share of media ownership any one person can hold. He added that the High Court had also ruled on the balance between public interest and a citizen's right to privacy.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar also defended the decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry.

But he said it was possible that the Commission might miss its deadline of next December 31 and the report might not be finished until after the election.

However, Tanaiste Joan Burton played down the prospect of the report of the new Commission of Investigation into IBRC not being completed before the general election.

She said the Commission would be able to get a head-start because of the inquiry already begun by IBRC's liquidators, KPMG.

"All judges can come back if there are things that require greater depth of examination - but there will have been some work done already in relation to the work that was being carried on in the earlier exercise" she said.

Ms Burton also said the terms of reference had not been decided.

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