“At the moment – this House is being forced to proceed with a costly review into IBRC’s deals – a review it must be said that is not only costly but inherently conflicted, particularly given the most recent incidence of the special liquidator [KPMG’s Kieran Wallace, formerly with IBRC] who has been assigned to conduct the review – actually joining Denis O’Brien in the High Court to injunct reports into IBRC’s business dealings and unorthodox verbal agreements between senior debtors and the [IBRC] CEO Mike Aynsley. A very worrying trend indeed…..”
Catherine Murphy TD [during a debate in the Dáil today on the sale of the government’s share in Aer Lingus], rvealing that the man tasked with running the Siteserv deal review was in a joinder with Denis O’Brien in the tycoon’s legal action to injunct RTÉ News…while also explaining what the redacted case was all about.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy attempts to raise concerns about the involvement of KPMG in the review of the Siteserv deal.
Enter Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett.
Catherine Murphy: “There is a motion on the Order Paper, No. 197, to which there are 45 signatories. Unusually, it has been signed by almost the entire Opposition. I am calling on the Taoiseach to consider allocating time for a debate on it. It concerns the review by KPMG of Siteserv and other issues. It was pointed out when we were debating the matter that there were conflicts or, at least, perceived conflicts with the individual who was to carry out the review.
Seán Barrett: “I am sorry, but we cannot deal with that issue on the Order of Business.”
Murphy: “There has been further damaged by virtue of the fact…”
Barrett: “Is time being allocated to debate the motion?”
Murphy: “…that IBRC joined the process last week.”
Barrett: “I am sorry, but the Deputy cannot raise this issue on the Order of Business. Will she, please, resume his seat?”
Murphy: “It joined the court case last week. Essentially, a court case was taken by Mr Denis O’Brien…”
Barrett: “Deputy Martin Heydon is next. I am sorry, but Deputy Catherine Murphy is out of order.”
Murphy: “The conflicts of interest are now greater than they were.”
Barrett: “The Deputy is out of order. Will she, please, resume her seat? She cannot raise this matter on the Order of Business.”
Murphy: “If there is to be a review and we are to spend public money on it and there is someone who is…”
Barrett: “The Deputy has a Whip. She can ask them to go to the whips’ meeting and arrange a debate.”
Murphy: “It seems that time should be provided…”
Barrett: ‘Will the Deputy, please, resume her seat?’
Murphy: “That there are 45 signatories on the Opposition side is no small matter.”
Barrett: “The Deputy can ask her Whip to deal with the matter at the whips’ meeting.”
Murphy: “I am asking the Taoiseach to consider allocating time to debate the motion.”
Barrett: “Will the Deputy, please, resume her seat?”
Martin Heydon (Fine Gael): “I wish to ask the Taoiseach about promised legislation following last Friday’s historic vote. It represented another move by the Government to improve equality in society, as well as fixing the economy. I wish to ask the Taoiseach about another issue on which the Government has made progress…”
A spokeswoman for Facebook said: “We believe that restricting access to a free and open internet deprives people of important economic and social opportunities and choices, and hope that access will be restored soon.”
Opposition members of the Nauruan parliament have expressed concern about the censorship in Nauru.
The former president, Sprent Dabwido, said the block was imposed due to “paranoia” about independent media scrutiny on the island nation.
The Facebook ban was directed by the Nauruan government, but was imposed by the nation’s internet provider, Digicel. It came shortly after the general manager’s visa was cancelled and she was replaced by another Digicel staff member.
Independent TD for Kildare North Catherine Murphy (top) and James Morrisey, a spokesman for Denis O’Brien.
John Mooney, in yesterday’s Sunday Times, reported how Independent TD Catherine Murphy has received correspondence from Siteserv and Team Denis.
Both urged the Independent TD to leave their business out of her politics.
Mr Mooney reported:
“[Siteserv CEO and chairman Sean Corkery] accused [TD Catherine] Murphy of making “false and misleading comments” that are causing “incalculable damage” to Siteserv’s reputation, business interests, employees and shareholders. He asked her to “cease and desist”.
[Murphy] has also received a letter from James Morrissey, a spokesman for O’Brien, accusing her of using “Dail privilege to voice false and baseless remarks”.
In a special Dail debate on Siteserv last Wednesday night [transcrip at link below], Murphy claimed O’Brien received especially favourable loan terms from IBRC which she described as being “effectively subsidised”. “I would ask you to behave in an honourable fashion and publicly withdraw your comments,” Morrissey said.
In the same article, Mr Mooney reports that Sierra founder Desmond Whyte attempted to buy back Sierra at the time of the sale of Siteserv in March 2012 – as he believed Sierra was in fact propping up its parent company.
“‘We tried to ring Anglo [IBRC] to say we’d buy Sierra back. We would have bought it for €45m. I believed it was worth €70m,’ said Whyte. ‘They wouldn’t return my calls or have anything to do with me. We appointed a consultant to deal with it but he got nowhere. Siteserv should have been broken apart and each of its companies sold off.
Sierra was able to prop up the other companies. Sierra was making lots of money, enough to keep all the rest of the companies going. Sierra was worth €70m alone as far as I was concerned. The profits had slipped a little, but it was a good investment. When I saw it being sold off as if it were a job lot, it was like being stabbed in the heart.'”
In 2013, [REDACTED] purchased Ballynahinch Castle Hotel set in 500 acres of Connemara countryside.
The property included a castle ruin in an island on Ballynahinch lake.
This island was the seat of the Conmaicne Mara and the O’Caodhla before it was taken over by the O’Flaherty in the 12th century. The Martins were granted the land in the 17th century and an extension was erected by ‘Humanity’ Dick Martin to facilitate a gaol in the 18th century.
Concerns have been raised since a scaffold was erected around the island castle in recent weeks and works appear to have begun on the ruins. Local historians, archaeologists and wildlife enthusiasts have expressed serious concerns about this development.
‘It is not clear whether planning permission for the work is necessary, has been sought, approved and what restrictions pertain to that. Galway County Council need to clarify this immediately.
‘It is not clear either whether the National Monuments Service have given their approval for the development and if so what safeguards were requested to maintain the integrity of the site.
‘It is understood that the castle is also in a Special Area of Conservation and that there are a number of protected habitats on the site.
You’ll recall how it emerged yesterday that Denis O’Brien was seeking a High Court injunction against RTÉ to prevent a report being broadcast today.
The matter has been adjourned until Tuesday, May 12.
The Irish Independent reports:
“Businessman Denis O’Brien’s injunction application against RTE over a proposed broadcast report in relation to his private banking affairs has been adjourned on consent between the parties in the High Court. The court heard RTE has in the meantime undertaken not to broadcast certain matters in the report which was due to go out today (Friday May 1). Mr O’Brien says there is no public interest in details in relation to his confidential private banking arrangements with Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).”
“Michael Collins SC, for IBRC, said his client had a separate but related case against RTE and he sought permission for that to be before the court on May 12 along with the O’Brien proceedings.”
Broadsheet: “Legal Coffee Drinker, what’s it all about?”
Legal Coffee Drinker:“RTÉ agreed the adjournment [until May 12].”
Broadsheet: “But the judge didn’t make any ruling at all.”
LCD: “He didn’t have to.”
Broadsheet:“They caved in?”
[Barrister] Mr [Michael] Cush handed in two sealed envelopes to the judge [Paul Gilligan], the first of which contained a letter from RTE to Mr O’Brien outlining the fact that work is being carried out by the news department on a report to be broadcast [Tomorrow] Friday, May 1st, but with no time given for when it will go out….
…In the second letter written by Mr O’Brien, it refers to details of particular sums of money representing his indebtedness to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) but it is all clearly referable to his personal banking facilities and it is “undoubtedly confidential”, counsel said.
“The consideration for Siteserv Holding Ltd’s acquisition of the Siteserv assets and business from Milliington was €45.4m. This was financed with shareholders’ equity of €12m and loan finance from AIB.
“In the period from June 2012 to April 2013, SHL drew down €32.4m from the bank in loan and overdraft finance and repaid €3m. So effectively O’Brien and his fellow shareholders got control of Siteserv using just €12m of their own cash.”
“If Michael Noonan is serious about reviewing loan transactions where significant writedowns have occurred, then there should be a similar review of a reasonable sampling of transactions at Nama – as well as AIB, for that matter.”