Catherine Murphy's Relentless Pursuit of Truth Into IBRC, The Government And irish Water
Slowly but surely Catherine Murphy's relentless pursuit of the truth into the sale of Siteserv to Denis O'Brien's in 2012 is beginning to show some positive results. Today in the Dail Catherine Murphy and opposition TDs called for an independent inquiry into IBRC transactions, including the 2012 sale of Siteserv to a company controlled by Denis O’Brien. The truth as envisaged by Catherine Murphy could have serious consequences for the coalition government. It also would question the legitimacy of Irish Water Ltd. Mr O'Brien's GMC Sierra, a subsidiary of Siteserv was controversially awarded the contract to install water meters throughout Ireland by Irish Water.
The murky dealings have been highlighted in Ms Murphy previous statement in her reply to numerous Parliamentary Questions, when she said
“I’m not surprised by the replies which confirm what I and others have long suspected – that the background to this deal and the eventual awarding of the metering contract is mired in convenient circumstances that all amount to something which leaves a very bad taste in the mouth of most right minded citizens.”
a Little Background
Catherine Murphy, Independent TD for North Kildare, has been asking questions of Finance Minister Michael Noonan in the Dáil about IBRC’s sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien. Mr O’Brien bought it for €45.4million cash while Siteserv owed Anglo €150million. The sale involved IBRC writing off €100million of Siteserv’s debt with €5million distributed to Siteserv’s shareholders.
After the sale of Siteserv to Mr O’Brien, GMC Sierra won a State contract to install water meters. GMC Sierra is comprised of GMC Utilities Group and Sierra Support Services Group. Sierra is a subsidiary of Siteserv. For the full story of the deal see this article Siteserve Deal Won't Go Away - Michael Noonan Finance Minister In Deep Water
Hitting a nerve
Ms Murphy's past questions about IBRC and Siteserv have invoked anger and scorn in the past such as from Sean Corkery, CEO Sitserve when he said:
“I’m getting a little bit fed up of the constant questioning from Catherine Murphy in the sense that it’s the same questions and I think she knows what the answer is, which is that everything was completely above board. I’m trying to run a company. I’m the CEO and when statements are made that are untrue they affect customers, suppliers and employees,” he said." Irish Times
Freedom of Information Documents Redacted
As a result of the constant questioning by Catherine Murphy received documents from the Dept Of Finance today as a result of freedom of information requests.
The documents were redacted, a lot of relevant information was blacked out, as can be seen in the video below.
This seems highly suspicious and it will not do anything to reduce public scepticism in the Government and in particular Mr Noonan, Minister of Finance.
In a later statement to Newstalk, IBRC chairman at the time of the sale Alan Dukes, Fine Gael, said "I categorically reject suggestions that there was any impropriety in the sale of Siteserv by IBRC in March 2012. All aspects of the sale were considered in detail by the board of the bank and the decision made was considered to be the best course of action available, in the interests of the shareholder and of the State,"
Information contradicts Minister of Finance
However, what information the files do show, Ms Murphy said contradict responses to Parliamentary Questions she received from Mr Noonan. In the files senior officials express reservations about a number of 'poorly executed' large transactions made by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, including the sale of Siteserv to Millington owned by Denis O'Brien.
One of the documents state "SiteServ is the subject of a separate memo but to summarise we are concerned with the quality of some of the decisions taken in respect of this transaction. The sale decision has raised a number of areas where we believe that decisions taken by IBRC resulted in a less than optimum return for the bank. The transaction has also been the subject of a number of PQs and press queries which further questioned the commercial rationale for some elements of the sale including payments made to existing stakeholders. We are recommending that the Chairman is asked to commission a full independent review in relation to the Siteserv transaction"
Ministers Integrity question
In an article in the journal.ie Ms Murphy questioned whether Noonan was being genuine when he “insisted he was satisfied that the SiteServ deal represented the best deal for the State”. She went on to say “The documents I receive today really make me question whether or not the Minister really believed that was the case,” she told reporters.