Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD on the plinth of Leinster House followingyesterday’s Supreme Court victory.
Further to Denis O’Brien’s loss in the Supreme Court yesterday.
Michael Clifford in The Irish Examiner writes:
‘Mr O’Brien was looking to assert what he saw as his rights as a citizen in a democracy. His action was based on asserting a principle.
The 19 individuals [who had their private data removed from email servers in Independent News And Media and taken to the Isle of Man where the data was “interrogated” and costs covered by a company controlled by Mr O’Brien, Blaydon Ltd,] all of whom are undoubtedly people of high principle, will more likely be interested in receiving monetary compensation rather than a legal declaration.
If they can prove their case, they will be entitled to be well-compensated for a breach of their privacy. In such an eventuality, the money will have to be paid out by INM.
It would be something of a bitter irony for Mr O’Brien if, as the main shareholder, he had to stump up for a privacy breach on a court ruling, having experienced, in his own case, a ruling that his privacy was legitimately breached in parliament.’
From top: Pearse Doherty, of Sinn Féin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil this afternoon
This afternoon in the Dáil.
During Leaders’ Questions.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was responding to comments made by Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty about the recent eviction and subsequent events at a farmhouse near Strokestown, Co Roscommon.
He said the High Court doesn’t issue eviction orders lightly, and said 116,000 mortgages have been restructured while “only” 400 eviction orders were executed in the last year.
In response, Mr Doherty said:
“No family, regardless of their circumstances, and it’s not the Revenue that are evicting them, regardless of their circumstances, should have been treated in this way. This idea that banks enforcers, these thugs, and I call them thugs, can enter into somebody’s property, can cut down locks, break down doors, can take somebody out by their ears, can kick somebody on the ground and push them out of their own home and property, while the guards watch on, is not acceptable.
“And we have raised this with you countless times and it is not just bank enforcers that are unregulated, we have rent receivers that is unregulated. Why are they doing this? And why is the public so outraged? And I commend the public for standing up in solidarity with the family and people who are facing eviction.
“And standing against the type of thuggish behaviour that we’ve seen last Tuesday. Why are they doing this? Because your government has completely abandoned these communities. You have rolled out the red carpet for the vulture funds, you’re allowing thousands of sales of restructured performing mortgages to take place of the vulture funds outside of the code of conduct of the Central Bank.
“And you have allowed, time and time again, the banks to ride rough shod over ordinary people. So Taoiseach, will you…ensure that this is the last time that unauthorised, unregulated bank henchmen will be entering property and behaving in the type of despicable way that we’ve seen in Roscommon last Tuesday?“
Mr Varadkar told Mr Doherty that he was “very concerned” that Mr Doherty “had nothing to say about what happened afterwards” – referring to events at the property on early Sunday morning.
“Twenty or thirty people arriving in a cattle truck, armed with baseball bats, who then injured three or four other people. Set cars alight and caused an animal to be shot dead. I find it very concerning that you have nothing to say about that. You’ve made two contributions now and you’ve not condemned, you’ve not condemned, you’ve not condemned, you’ve not condemned…”
At this point Mr Doherty started to respond to Mr Varadkar and the Leas Ceann Comhairle Pat “The Cope” Gallagher called for order.
The call for order went on for more than 30 seconds.
After order was restored, Mr Varadkar said:
“Deputy, I condemn violence and thuggish behaviour by anyone, under any circumstances, so let there be no doubt about this. But in two contributions, in fact, in three contributions now, you have dismissed the fact that tax evasion is a serious offence.
“You have criticised the gardaí, you have criticised the High Court for making this order, having heard the cases…and you have said nothing about the thugs who climbed on the back of a cattle truck, 20 of them, broke into property, injured three people, killed a dog…”
Mr Gallagher began to call for order again.
Then the Taoiseach said:
“Deputy, deputy, when it comes to Sinn Féin and the rule of law, and public order, and condemning violence, it doesn’t take very long for your balaclava to slip.”
During Leaders’ Questions, taken by Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty raised the Permanent TSB sale of €3.7 billion worth of residential mortgage loans.
Mr Doherty said the bank has been invited to attend the Oireachtas finance committee next Tuesday.
Mr Harris said the bank should go before the committee and said it would be good to see some “humility” from the bank.
Is PTSB deliberately giving the impression that most of the 14,000 owner-occupier mortgages being sold are in arrears for “years”?
The Central Bank says 31,624 mortgages were in arrears for > 2 yrs last Sept. PTSB has 10% share of Irish mortgage market. pic.twitter.com/LamLRhaFfp
SF’s Pearse Doherty repeating Michelle O’Neill’s statement, almost word for word, in the Dáil chamber. “The DUP collapsed the process.” He wants both the DUP, and Fianna Fáil, to consider their positions – having a go at Martin’s perceived “two problem parties” line
Coveney says neither government, nor SF, were expecting the DUP statement yesterday. “The basis of a deal was there,” he says. “Some of the commentary has been unhelpful this morning, especially from the Fianna Fáil leader…” all politics is local, particularly to Cork SC
“We have made it clear to the British government, in the right and appropriate way, that a move to direct rule is not where we want to be “- says the same is true of UK, and probably of the DUP. Wants to get talks back going again.
“We have made it clear to the British government, in the right and appropriate way, that a move to direct rule is not where we want to be “- says the same is true of UK, and probably of the DUP. Wants to get talks back going again.
“Any alternative to that is bad news for everybody,” he says. Doherty welcomes Coveney’s clear indication against direct rule. Coveney said the accommodation offered last Friday would not have made the Irish language “a threat to anybody”, with nothing being forced on anyone else
The Dáil debated Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
During the debate, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty spoke about another Donegal Garda whistleblower Kieran Jackson, who is now retired.
Mr Doherty said:
“There are many reasons why Nóirín O’Sullivan should leave her position as Garda Commissioner and there are many Members in the House who have outlined those reasons. I support the motion, obviously, that Sinn Féin has tabled.
I will recall for the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, the case of a former garda in the Donegal division, with whom I have engaged over the past number of years and who has engaged with the Garda Commissioner over that period. In May 2001, a former garda in the Donegal division met two detective inspectors from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation in a hotel in County Monaghan. Accompanied by a witness, the detectives had invited the officer to meet them. During this exchange, the now retired garda disclosed to the interviewing detectives a number of very serious allegations against a former Garda superintendent, since retired, who was also stationed in Donegal. These allegations related to suspected tax evasion, social welfare fraud and persons being in possession of a fraudulent bank account into which thousands of pounds were being lodged regularly. This meeting in Monaghan lasted for over five and a half hours. As the meeting drew to a close, the detectives stated that they would be in contact again with the whistleblower shortly in order to take a written statement. However, this did not happen.
In September 2014, a solicitor acting on behalf of the whistleblower wrote to then acting Garda Commissioner, Noirín O’Sullivan, in which he divulged all of the allegations of criminal wrongdoing suspected of having been committed by the whistleblower’s former colleague. The letter also expressed his client’s alarm at the apparent lack of any follow-up having been carried out on the part of the investigating gardaí. A similar letter, dated 24 September 2014, was subsequently sent to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, around which time the whistleblower himself contacted me to request that I bring the case to the Minister’s attention, which I did.
On 16 December 2015, the Minister replied to me in a letter in which she stated that inquiries were being made with the Garda Commissioner regarding the whistleblower’s complaint. A further letter, issued in May 2016, declared that inquiries into the claims were ongoing. Then, last September, the whistleblower finally received the news that he had long suspected. The Garda advised him that, following an extensive search of files and records held locally and at Monaghan Garda station, no record of his complaint or of any subsequent investigation could be found. The correspondence went on to say that inquiries made with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation revealed that no investigation was ever carried out by personnel in respect of the whistleblower’s allegations.
The whistleblower to whom I refer is former Garda Kieran Jackson. His story leads us to one of two conclusions. First, either Kieran Jackson is lying – I have no reason to believe that he is and there are other former gardaí who will corroborate his story – and no meeting between him and the detectives ever took place. The other conclusion is that somebody in An Garda Síochána has gone out of his or her way to cover it up and to ensure that his claims never saw the light of day.
If the latter conclusion is the case, then questions need to be asked as to who took the decision? Kieran Jackson informs me that a failure to follow up or investigate a criminal incident is, in itself, a crime. Questions must be asked about who took the decision to not pursue his complaint. Why has Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan – who has known about this for over two and a half years – done nothing about it?
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, and her Government say that they have full confidence in the Garda Commissioner. Try telling that to Garda whistleblowers across the State. Try telling that to Kieran Jackson who has had no response from the Commissioner in respect of the allegations he brought forward many years ago, and again in 2014, to the Garda Commissioner and to the Minister, with absolutely no action whatsoever taken.
We hear time and again, however, that the Tánaiste and the Commissioner embrace whistleblowers. The results are clear. There is only one course of action left for the Government, namely, to express no confidence in the Commissioner.”
Governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach today
Further to reports that 8,200 mortgage accounts – in which homeowners were overcharged because they were wrongly denied low interest tracker rates by 15 banks – had been identified by the Central Bank…
From a meeting of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach today…
It emerges at Oireachtas finance committee that, in fact, around 15,000 people will have been affected by Tracker scandal. Not 8,200.
Further to the announcement from Finance Minister Michael Noonan that Ireland must pay an additional €280million to the EU next year – because of the recent GDP growth of 26.3%, as recorded by the Central Statistics Office…
Sinn Féin TD and finance spokesman Pearse Doherty and Stephen Collins, political editor of The Irish Times, spoke on Today with Seán O’Rourke about the development.
Seán O’Rourke: “Pearse Doherty, are you assured by a comment from the Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe on Morning Ireland, saying that bill has to be met, as a result of our EU membership, it will not influence the spending plan for Budget 2017.”
Pearse Doherty: “Well, Minister Noonan actually provided me with this figure on Tuesday, €280million additional and made that point that it doesn’t affect our fiscal space. And this is about just how the rules are applied and the fiscal space has been agreed in April and therefore it’s set. It will have an impact next year and that’s where we need to actually tease out how we calculate the fiscal space for next year. But I think there’s a deeper issue here and me in Sinn Féin and myself, in particular, have been challenging the previous government on this, since 2013. Our economic, the way we calculate our economy is absolutely broken, it’s bust in this country. It’s been a way out for quite a long number of years. We all agree that the 26% isn’t real, but neither was the 7% that we were suggesting was happening last year as well because the same type of factors were at play. At a lesser extent.”
“But the fact that we’re actually paying more to the European Union budget as a result of this year isn’t something new. I have figures going back to 2010, as a result of redomiciled plcs – these are companies that were domiciled in Ireland but don’t pay any tax here. And the actual additional contribution that we had to pay to the EU budget every year, because of that average, between €45 and €60million per year. So this is something that’s been going on, over and over again. In 2014, when we started to, we raised our GDP figures because of the activities of illicit trades that’s, you know, prostitution, drug sales and all the rest which gives us a bump in GDP, we actually had to pay €6.5million to the European contribution.”
In the Dáil…
Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised the €280million bill after he asked why the Government recently opposed an EU proposal to begin country-by-country reporting of corporation tax by large multinational firms.
He was speaking during a debate on corporation tax.
From the debate:
Richard Boyd Barrett: “A few weeks ago, the Government opposed an EU proposal to introduce public country-by- country reporting of corporation tax for large multinational companies on the spurious grounds of subsidiarity. Are we going to bring in public country-by-country reporting ourselves?
Mary Mitchell O’Connor: “Last April, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive to introduce public country-by-country reporting of corporation tax by large multinational enterprises.Since then, my Department has been considering the detail of the proposal and consulting with stakeholders. The Department also ran an open consultation in the course of last May. The task of assessing the proposal is continuing and, at EU level, the negotiations have begun. Although they are at an early stage, it is clear that the proposal raises a number of practical, legal and technical issues. These will need to be addressed over the coming months. Until we know the scope and content of any final EU measure, it is too soon to consider national measures on this type of public reporting. However, Ireland is already to the fore in introducing similar reporting obligations for large multinational companies. Under the Finance Act 2015, certain Irish-resident parent companies and subsidiaries of non-Irish companies must file a country-by-country report on tax with the Revenue Commissioners each year. The first of these reports are due to be submitted to the Revenue by the end of next year. Several countries, including the US and all EU member countries, have committed to introducing this form of country-by-country reporting and to sharing the information among their tax authorities.”
Boyd Barrett: “The Minister may have heard this week that we are already paying a big price because of aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations. We will have to pay an extra €280 million to the EU this year because of the artificial inflation of the growth figures. Already, even before that, our contribution to the EU is grossly inflated and distorted because it is, in proportion to population, double that of countries such as Portugal and others due to the tax avoidance strategies of multinationals based in this country. It is in our interests to have public country-by-country reporting of the big multinational companies to stop them engaging in aggressive tax avoidance. Yet, incredibly, when offered the opportunity to do that by the European Union, we used the spurious excuse of subsidiarity to reject that proposal. What the Minister seems to be saying is that we cannot do it on our own. I agree with that, but why the hell did we not sign up to a pan-European proposal to do it, instead saying that we could not sign up to it because it infringes our sovereignty? It does not make any sense.”
Mitchell O’Connor: I reject tax avoidance. We cannot do it on our own. If we were to publish the figures the Deputy is referring to, it would allow some companies to gain a possible commercial advantage over others because matters would be deemed to be commercially sensitive. Other jurisdictions might not share the information with us if they knew we were going to publish the reports. It would not help the tax transparency agenda and a system of country-by-country reporting. I cannot do it.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Catherine Connolly): I thank the Minister. That brings Question Time to a close, and we are moving…”
Boyd Barrett: “There are 21 seconds remaining.”
Connolly: “We are moving on. I asked for the Deputy’s co-operation. I have three different clocks here. I am going to move on to Topical Issues.”
Listen back to Today with Seán O’Rourke interview in full here
During tonight’s debate on the Commission of Investigation into certain IBRC transactions, including the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien…
When I met with the Minister yesterday I highlighted that my main concern would be that the investigation does not end on Prom [Promissory note] night and that it extends into the time when the IBRC was in liquidation.
There are many issues that straddle both time periods and it is vital that the investigation can properly follow these threads.
For example, the purchaser of Siteserv, was already significantly indebted to IBRC. We know that on the 7th of March 2013 – one month post liquidation – that he wrote to the special liquidator seeking to reschedule his outstanding loans over a further 3 year period.
We know that he claims to have been allowed a similar extension by virtue of a verbal agreement he claims he had with the CEO of IBRC (Mike Aynsley).
We also know that, according to IBRC, the credit committee had never approved such a previous agreement yet Mr O’Brien maintains it was in place and he requested that the special liquidator be made to honour that verbal agreement.
I wish the minister to clarify if the assertion of such a verbal agreement will be enough to satisfy the Terms of Reference regarding the ‘contractual obligations’ required in relation to investigating issues that straddle pre & post liquidation.
We know that the credit committee met on the 23rd of May 2013 – two months after Mr O’Brien’s approach to the special liquidator and at that time the outstanding balance owed to IBRC by Mr O’Brien was in the region of €325million.
It is worth, at this point, asking the question as to why someone, so heavily indebted, was allowed to make significant purchases from IBRC rather than being asked to pay down his outstanding loans. Were other bailed-out banks financing this buying exercise? Was he borrowing from Peter to pay Paul?
Interestingly, an article that appeared in the UK edition of the Sunday Times in January 2012 showed that in 2011 & 2012 the IBRC refinanced some of Mr O’Brien’s loans and increased their security stake in some of his investments. It seems illogical that in the same time period they allowed him to purchase Siteserv for example.
The point here is that some of the documents I am referring to relate to the Special Liquidators era hence the need for the period to be covered by the terms of reference.
In recent days, The Chairman of IBRC (Mr Dukes) has made much of the fact that the Central Bank conducted a review, prior to July 2012, and apparently found no problems.
Contradicting that assertion however is a relevant piece from the FOI documents from inside the Department when they said
“We are concerned that the Central Bank report compiled on the transaction vindicates their position. To be clear we are concerned with a number of the decisions taken by the bank in relation to this transaction.”
….Yet It was not until I received an FOI of July 2012 internal Dept memos did we learn that the Department officials were expressing serious concern over the effectiveness of the CEO and the management team and they had serious concerns over the way a number of large transactions, including the Siteserv sale had been handled.
….Another significant issue that raised its head in some of the early reporting of this controversy but has since been replaced by other developments is the share activity in Siteserv prior to its sale.
Various sources of information told me that the Siteserv share activity in November 2011 – the period during which the bidding process was underway – was irregular and that there had been a significant share spike around the time it was sold resulting in a nice windfall for some lucky investors.
Unfortunately it was indicated to me that some of those investors may not have been so much lucky as they were well-informed. Indeed the Chairman of IBRC confirmed in an RTÉ interview that Denis O’Brien for example, had been given advance notice of the sale before it was announced. Did others have similar information?
The unfortunate thing here is that while I know what insider trading is, I don’t yet know how we deal with it here in Ireland. On foot of my information regarding share activity, I wrote to the Irish Stock Exchange who advised me that it was not within their remit and that I should talk to the Central Bank.
I wrote to the Central Bank who told me it was outside of their remit. I then wrote to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement whose reply came back today to tell me that it does not appear to come within the remit of their office.
….In my speech on May 28th I referred to loans held by Mr O’Brien that were due to be repaid in full in 2011 and 2012. We know they were not repaid in that timeframe.
Effectively, once the agreed term expired, those loans were in default and became callable on demand. IBRC’s own terms and conditions allowed them to charge default interest rates yet they chose not to do so in this case.
Many sources have come forward both before and since that speech, to say that they had personal experience of being both performing and non-performing borrowers of IBRC and their experience of their loans being called in, in a ruthless fashion and other defaulting borrowers talk of the punitive interest rates applied to them.
…..The plight of the former Irish Nationwide Mortgage holders and the way in which they have been treated by IBRC compared to the very favourable environment that seems to have been provided to Mr O’Brien for example is perhaps an indication.
Catherine Murphy, Independent TD for Kildare North