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Friday 9 December 2016

What Independent TD said in the Dail last week

Independent TD Catherine Murphy
Independent TD Catherine Murphy

This is an edited version of Catherine Murphy's speech made under privilege in the Dail on May 28:

The Taoiseach first suggested that the CAG review the Siteserv sale process, at which time it was pointed out to him that the IBRC does not come within the CAG's remit.

With this Bill, I am attempting to address that problem by broadening the remit of the CAG. The reason I anticipate the need to involve the CAG, if not a full commission of investigation which might well be a better option, is because I believe the Government has got this matter badly wrong.

I worry about the transactions that have been excluded from the review...

We are aware, for example, that the former CEO of IBRC made verbal agreements with Denis O'Brien to allow him to extend the terms of his already expired loans.

We also know that the verbal agreement was never escalated to the credit committee for approval. I am led to believe and I would welcome clarification of the rates applicable at this time: that the extension also attracted some extremely favourable interest terms. I understand that Mr O'Brien was enjoying a rate of around 1.25pc when IBRC could, and arguably should, have been charging 7.5pc.

Given that we are talking about outstanding sums of upwards of €500m, the interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest.

We also know that Denis O'Brien felt confident enough in his dealings with IBRC that he could write to Kieran Wallace, the special liquidator, to demand that the same favourable terms extended to him by way of a verbal agreement could be continued.

We now have Kieran Wallace, who has been appointed by the Government to conduct the IBRC review, joining with IBRC and Denis O'Brien in the High Court to seek to injunct the information I have outlined from coming into the public domain. Surely, that alone represents a conflict.

In documents released to me under freedom of information, the Minister, his officials, the Central Bank and even the Troika acknowledge that IBRC - the former Anglo Irish Bank - is no ordinary bank and that there is a significant public interest as the bank was fully nationalised and was in wind-down mode.

They all accept that this is the people's money we are dealing with.

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