The Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has accused the Government of continuing to mislead the public following the revelation that, contrary to previous claims, IBRC board meetings and key information was being shared with the Department of Finance prior to a new framework being put in place.
He also challenged claims that the long delayed Commission of Investigation was being established following the emergence of ‘new allegations’ by Deputy Catherine Murphy.
Deputy Martin commented, “The performance of Ministers Michael Noonan and Simon Harris over the course of the last 24 hours has beggared belief and further undermines both individual’s credibility on this matter.
“As of now, there are two key issues on which the Government are clearly misleading the public.
“Firstly, both ministers have claimed that this Commission of Inquiry is being established following the emergence of new allegations by Deputy Catherine Murphy. This is simply not credible. What both ministers refuse to acknowledge, or simply do not understand, is that these concerns and allegations have not emerged from external sources, but from within their own Department.
“Their senior civil servants had serious concerns about what was happening within IBRC and they expressed these in very clear terms within the department. Again and again, when Fianna Fáil and others challenged the Government on this key fact, we were simply dismissed and told that there was nothing to see here. The information only emerged though FOI requests. This was a major error of political judgement that is now being compounded by the failure of ministers to be honest about that error.
“Secondly, the core argument deployed by the Government in dismissing Fianna Fáil over the last month has been that the only reason we know anything about what is happening in IBRC is because of a new framework introduced by Fine Gael and Labour in Government. This argument has been deployed by everyone from the Taoiseach down. Again, we now know that it is simply untrue.
“Last night, under cover of the announcement of the Commission of Investigation, it was revealed that this entire strategy was based on a falsehood – that the Department was actually in possession of board minutes covering the Siteserv decision.
“In fact, through our own work, Fianna Fáil has established that regular, senior, formal and informal contact between the Department of Finance and IBRC was taking place right back to 2009.
“With the Taoiseach having withdrawn entirely from public throughout this crisis, it has fallen to Ministers Noonan and Harris to now seek to dismiss this falsehood as ‘an administrative error’ and ‘a filing mistake’.
“The way this continues to be handled falls well short of what the public expect. The Government clearly hope that they have drawn a line under the crisis with the announcement of a Commission of Inquiry. But the efforts we have seen to mislead the public have actually raised yet more questions to which we need answers.”