Leaders' Questions

As the Tánaiste knows, over the past number of days the sale of Siteserv by IBRC to Millington, an Isle of Man company owned by Denis O'Brien, has been the subject of much controversy. At the time of the sale, it was in debt of up to €150 million. It installed Sky boxes, fixed traffic lights and had contracts with the ESB and Bord Gáis Energy. After the sale, it went on to win a large contract to install water meters. We know from documents revealed to Deputy Catherine Murphy and The Sunday Times that the civil servants in the Department of Finance had very serious concerns about the sale and transaction. They were concerned that the decision to allow the sale process to be run by Siteserv's advisers was an issue for them. They were concerned about the decision to exclude trade buyers from the process, the limit of the exclusivity period when there were other bids outstanding and the payment of €5 million to the shareholders of a company that was essentially bust.

We know that Anchorage, a multimillion euro company, submitted a higher bid of €52 million which for some reason was not accepted. Another large company, Altrad, publicly complained at the time that it had been shut out of the bidding process and felt the company was worth about €60 million. The civil servants went on to say that they were extremely concerned about the number of large transactions that had been poorly executed by the bank and its management. The civil servants said this was damaging the credibility of the State and the bank and asked the Minister if he would conduct an independent review or ask the chairman of the board to do so. For some reason the Minister did not pursue that recommendation. He met the chairman of the board and the chief executive officer in July and they gave assurances that everything was okay and it was the best deal possible. That is a trend.

In previous publications everybody is assuring everybody that everything is fine, but we do not know on what basis the Minister, Deputy Noonan, accepted the assurances of Mr. Dukes. We do not know on what basis the board continued saying it was the best deal. I ask the Tánaiste to show us how it was the best deal. Yesterday, the Taoiseach said during Leaders' Questions that the Comptroller and Auditor General would look at this from the perspective of value for money. We heard today that Mr. Dukes disputes the Minister's statement to the House to the effect that Mr. John Moran, the former Secretary General of the Department of Finance, asked Mr. Aynsley about establishing an inquiry. He said he was never asked and it was never discussed at the August 2012 meeting. I would like those issues to be clarified.

Is the Tánaiste comfortable with what has been revealed about this deal? Would she accept that the public should know more about it and we should have far more transparency? In the words of the Taoiseach, Paddy likes to know.

Paddy is long forgotten.

Paddy knows very little about what transpired here. The only effective way to deal with this comprehensively would be to have an effective and quick commission of investigation inquiry, under the existing relevant legislation, into all aspects of this deal and the other large transactions the Department of Finance officials had such grave concerns about. The Tánaiste might clarify the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General in all of this.

Paddy wants to know.

I note the very valuable work done by Deputy Catherine Murphy on this. I am in favour of a review of Siteserv and any transactions of equal magnitude that may also be worthy of inquiry. I want to be absolutely clear. I would like to see an independent inquiry by a competent authority, which is the way to get the correct and honest answers on any issue like this. I have heard the suggestions in regard to the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Committee of Public Accounts and I am aware that there may have to be a change in legislation if it was to be facilitated. In the past, the Comptroller and Auditor General has played a very valuable role in scoping inquiries and investigations. It is a matter of identifying the best mechanism for a proper independent inquiry by a competent authority. I do not want to rule on that at this point in time because, as the Deputy has said, a certain amount of material has come into the public domain.

The issue of the KPMG report arose in January 2011 during Deputy Martin's time in Government. It concerned Siteserv and was a review of the strategic options for the business and the debt situation vis-à-vis IBRC. That was during the Deputy's time in government and I am sure he is probably familiar with that period. In February 2011, there were meetings between IBRC, Siteserv and KPMG to discuss the findings of the KPMG report. Again, I am sure the Deputy would have been fully aware of that, if not then perhaps now, because he was a prominent member of the Government. On 7 March 2011, PWC was engaged by IBRC to review the KPMG report and advise it on debt recovery strategies. I am sure the Deputy would agree that it is necessary to look at the totality of all of this matter.

He raised a number of issues around payments to certain shareholders. Another issue he should take into account is that more than shareholders were involved in this.

There were more than 1,500 people working in the company. Now, after its having been acquired, there are over 3,000 people working in it. I would have imagined that at the time, from the perspectives of the former Government and the current one, a very significant issue would have been not only the shareholders but also people working in the business. I am sure that was a concern of Deputy Martin when he was a Minister.

What about the higher bidder?

I would like to see an independent inquiry by a competent authority and a review of any related or similar transactions of similar magnitude.

I welcome the Tánaiste's statement that she would welcome an independent inquiry by a competent authority. It seems to me that the only competent authority that could deal with this immediately is a commission of investigation established under the Commissions of Investigation Act.

We are completely in the dark about the Comptroller and Auditor General. The Taoiseach came into the House yesterday and almost plucked something out of the cloud, saying he chatted with the Minister that morning and believed the Comptroller and Auditor General could carry out a value-for-money investigation. The Comptroller and Auditor General could not carry out the comprehensive investigation that a commission of investigation could carry out, and that is why the legislation was enacted. We need clarity from the Government urgently on what it is going to do. We are getting conflicting accounts from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in regard to what kind of review or investigation we are talking about.

I have no difficulty at all with the totality. The reason there should be a commission of investigation is that it would engage with the totality. The idea that €5 million would be paid to directors or shareholders of a bust company is fundamentally wrong from any moral perspective and raises all sorts of alarms. This must be put to the Tánaiste, particularly given that so much money was owed to the taxpayer. The fundamental issue is that the taxpayer lost €105 million overall in the deal.

This must be juxtaposed with the €5 million the shareholders received and the issue of other companies bidding higher. This was all in March 2012. There is a fundamental obligation to get to the bottom of this. That obligation is to the taxpayers and citizens. That is the core issue.

On what basis was the Minister for Finance satisfied the best deal was done? I do not know the answer based on any of the documentation or publications I have read so far. A very good article by Tom Lyons in the Sunday Independent of April 2012 dealing with all the circumstances surrounding the sale, the meeting with the shareholders and the related press briefing raised more questions than answers. Even when one reads that, the message from the Government is that it should be trusted and that we should be assured everything is fine. There is no detail on why everything was fine and why the deal was regarded as the best. In terms of compellability and documentation, the only way to get to the bottom of this is by a commission of investigation.

In any series of events that involved transactions in Deputy Martin's time in government and during the term of this Government-----

On a point of clarity-----

Deputy Martin talked about losses to the taxpayer. The biggest loss in this case is the €34 billion that Fianna Fail put on the shoulders of Irish taxpayers in respect of Anglo Irish Bank.

That is significant. I do not know whether Deputy Martin took much interest when the construction industry and many major businesses collapsed. I do not know the detailed background to the Siteserv but presume the company was among many construction companies and trades, allied to construction, that ended up with unsustainable debt and, therefore, ended up, in Deputy Martin's time in government, under the remit of IBRC. That is all I am saying to the Deputy. It was his Government's policies that led to what occurred, not only to Siteserv but also many others.

The Deputy has made a case with which the Minister for Finance and I agree, because when the officials in the Department of Finance brought concerns to the Minister's attention, there was in place, as the Deputy knows, a relationships framework that was put together by the late Brian Lenihan, the former Minister for Finance. The current Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, expressly undertook to inquire into the concerns raised by the officials in the Department. Siteserv was one of many companies in severe financial meltdown and crisis. I presume the review by KPMG from January 2011, in the overall context of IBRC and the disaster that was Anglo Irish Bank, was an attempt to determine what could be salvaged from the company, particularly the jobs of people employed in it-----

So sell it to the underbidder.

-----to give the company a possibility of recovery. In that context, there was a mechanism whereby-----

It was sold to the underbidder.

Several reports issued during Deputy Martin's time in government identified and discussed options. Deputy Martin wants all of this examined. I have no difficulty with that and am perfectly happy with it but I would like to see the matter examined by a competent authority. I would like to see all the matters reviewed and would like to ensure it happens in a reasonable timeframe.

The Comptroller and Auditor General was mentioned. The Comptroller and Auditor General has previously done valuable scoping work in regard to inquiries. That is an historical fact.

For two days in a row, the Taoiseach has been either unable or unwilling to answer fundamental questions surrounding the scandal of Siteserv and IBRC. We hear this morning that the Tánaiste is following suit in an attempt to kick the matter to touch.

Not at all.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has made it absolutely clear that he and his office have no remit or authority in respect of IBRC. Therefore, when the Tánaiste appeals for a competent and appropriate authority, she should realise she is citing an office that is not capable of carrying out the investigation and does not have the remit to do so. I wonder why she is doing that.

We know Siteserv was sold off for €45 million. We know this was at a cost to the taxpayer of €105 million. That is a lot of money. We know the same legal advisers acted for both the purchaser and seller, and that shareholders got a sweetener of €5 million to ensure the deal went ahead. We know the Denis O'Brien company was not the highest bidder but yet emerged as the successful bidder. We know the Minister for Finance was briefed by the Department on serious concerns over this transaction and briefed equally on broader concerns over other transactions and the modus operandi of IBRC.

As the Tánaiste knows, the Siteserv deal is not the only one that saw debt written down. More than €64 million was written off in Blue Ocean Associates before being purchased by a consortium, also involving Denis O'Brien, as it happens. There was an almost 50% write-down of €300 million in debts in the purchase of Topaz. As it happens, Mr. O'Brien is also involved in this.

I believe the Tánaiste agrees that all these matters raise concerns of the most basic nature for the State and the operation and governance of IBRC. At this stage, it is causing considerable public disquiet.

People want to know what was going on with Siteserv specifically, but more broadly with the operation of IBRC. We want to know what these big problematic transactions were, their value, the cost to the taxpayer and the people involved, namely, the bidders and the successful bidders. People want to know why a civil servant or civil servants were ignored, why their advice was set aside or, astonishingly, overridden by a simple assurance given by Alan Dukes. People want to hear from the Tánaiste not some clever formula of words to kick the can down the road; we want to hear this morning that she will commit to a commission of inquiry.

That is the bottom line, a proper authority.

This is the competent authority and the appropriate mechanism to investigate the Siteserv transaction and delve much more deeply into the operation of IBRC and the seemingly very tight relationships between a number of the characters who emerge repeatedly in this narrative.

Dennis the Menace.

The Deputy asked what was going on. What was going on was that the construction industry in Ireland was in an absolute meltdown because the banks had failed.

Put up another argument.

The Deputy asked what was going on. She does not seem to know what was going on.

What was going on was that the construction industry in Ireland had collapsed with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses, and losses to the Irish taxpayer in the case of the particular bank which was taken on by IBRC with the purpose of liquidating what was actually a rotting carcass of a bank. That was what was going on, major job losses and the destruction of the construction industry in Ireland, and with it the almost destruction of the economy. That is what was going on.

This is unbelievable.

On foot of the work done at an earlier stage by Deputy Murphy, Deputy McDonald wants some of the matters inquired into. I have said to her and Deputy Martin very plainly, and I want to repeat it to her in case she was not listening, that I want to see an independent inquiry by a competent authority. There are a number of ways of doing this. This country has a great deal of experience of carrying out inquiries and investigations, and in some of those inquiries and investigations the offices and the resources of the Comptroller and Auditor General have been utilised on occasion, particularly in scoping matters.

If the Deputy wants, as she claims, to get answers, one wants competence and to be able to inquire into all of the matters. What I said was that I do not have any difficulty if it is deemed necessary and appropriate to inquire into the additional matters she raised about a number of other companies she mentioned. What one has to do is examine this and determine how best to do it, and bear in mind that there were other issues which the Deputy is ignoring, such as the fact that 1,500 people were working in this company. Does she suggest that the company should just have been let go?

Sell it to the highest bidder.

Not only has the company recovered, but it now employs more than 3,000 people. Her approach to an economic meltdown which was affecting the whole of society is to seem to imply that nothing should have been done. By the way, the Minister for Finance acted on concerns which were expressed by his officials in the context of the relationship framework which had been established by the previous Government, and to his credit he subsequently altered that framework.

Those who picked up the tab for the meltdown are well aware that it happened. People out there who suffered the brunt of the austerity that arose from corruption, cronyism and bad management know all about it.

Who voted for the bank guarantee?

Who implemented it?

I know all about it too because I represent some of those people. People want to know what was going on in IBRC. That is what I am putting to the Tánaiste. Some of the information and some of the concerns relating to IBRC have been raising their heads for some time, and I commend Deputy Murphy on her sterling work in bringing some of these matters to a head. I absolutely commend her on that.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

The interesting thing, in case the Tánaiste does not know, is that throughout the years when these matters have been raised the answer from the Government and the Minister for Finance has been to hide behind commercial sensitivity.

That is not true.

This is a complete abuse of privilege. That is just not true.

All of the answers are there in black and white in parliamentary questions. We now know that what was hidden under the veil of commercial sensitivity were practices and deals which raised grave concerns within the Civil Service. I respectfully say the civil servants were not listened to. It seems the Minister, Deputy Noonan, took the say-so of Alan Dukes, let it be said a former leader of his party, Fine Gael, that everything was hunky-dory. I have to say to the Tánaiste this does not strike me as a very thorough going approach.

Who appointed him?

We need to know what happened in respect of Siteserv, and that is for absolute certain-----

The Deputy is great at making accusations in the House.

-----but we need a full examination, root and branch, of all of those deals that gave rise to concern within the Civil Service and the system. Those concerns are not new; they are long-standing. We need to know and we need to have a full examination of each and every one of them.

I will quote words the Tánaiste said in 2012, and bear in mind that when she uttered these words, these deals were happening under the cloak of commercial sensitivity. She said it outrages ordinary citizens to see successive scandals being uncovered at enormous taxpayer expense and the same characters and plot lines popping up repeatedly. This is what we are seeing here, the same stories, the same characters and, it seems, the same utter disregard for the taxpayer. If the taxpayer had been front and centre in the case of Siteserv, certainly it would not have been a case of awarding the deal to a bidder other than the highest bidder, I would suggest to the Tánaiste.

How do you know that?

I want to hear from the Tánaiste a commitment to a commission of inquiry.

Or a kangaroo court.

Do not try to use the Comptroller and Auditor General as a get out clause. These matters have to be investigated thoroughly. The 2004 legislation is there for this express purpose. I suggest the Tánaiste utilises it.

There is a bit of bodhar Uí Laoghaire because I have already said that I want to see an independent inquiry by a competent authority. I find the Deputy's suggestion that everything was hunky-dory at this period in Irish history a little bit odd-----

That is what Mr. Dukes told the Minister, Deputy Noonan.

-----because there we were in the middle of a meltdown of the whole of the Irish economic landscape, brought on by this particular bank which, in effect, was being wound down and its different businesses being salvaged in so far as they could from the mess.

Deputy McDonald described that as hunky-dory.

I did not say that.

Deputy McDonald described it as hunky-dory. The Deputy should think about that period of time for people in business in Ireland. Sinn Féin recently held talks with businessmen from America to reassure them about the business bona fides of the party but the reference to Ireland and the business goings-on at a time as hunky-dory is genuinely and seriously astonishing.

That was not hunky-dory.

Does Sinn Féin want another kangaroo court?

It indicates the Deputy has no sense of what happens when a business is falling apart and, in this particular case, 1,500 jobs, representing people and families, are at risk.

There was a better offer on the table. They are Denis O'Brien's men and women over there.

I reiterate that I want to see an independent inquiry by a competent authority. In fairness to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, and Deputy McDonald is not noted in this House as somebody who is fair to anybody, I remember her colleague, Arthur Morgan, who was then a Sinn Féin Deputy, running down the stairs late at night to vote in favour of the bank guarantee. Her colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, who was then a Senator, did the same in the Seanad.

The Tánaiste is very defensive.

I want to see this Government carrying out an inquiry and having it done by a competent authority. It surprises me that the Deputy suggested there is no basis in any business transaction for any level of commercial sensitivity. Anyone who has worked in business or even run a sweet shop for an afternoon would know there is commercial sensitivity but in the case of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, when civil servants in his Department raised issues, and if we want to be fair to him, he used the relationship framework. What was the relationship framework? The relationship framework was designed by Fianna Fáil and put in place by the late Brian Lenihan.

There is a big history to it.

Let me explain it to Deputy McDonald. It was done not to have politicians directly running businesses. Deputy McDonald's and Sinn Féin's version is that there should be no relationship framework because presumably Sinn Féin politicians will run the businesses and then we know what would happen.

They do not understand the answer.

Does the Tánaiste have any idea how people lying on trolleys or looking at water charge bills on mats feel as they hear the revelations about the sale of Siteserv? The Tánaiste does herself and her party no favours by the swaggering attitude she has displayed over the past half an hour. Can she try to focus on answering some of the questions put by the Opposition? The last time I used a literary term during Leaders' Questions, it caused the Tánaiste and Fine Gael some confusion. If these events showed up in the plot of a Franz Kafka novel, they would be considered over the top and too surreal. Even by the extremely low standards of crony capitalism in Ireland, this is scraping the barrel. These deals are incredible. As the leader of the Labour Party and the so-called watchdog in the Government, I ask the Tánaiste to address herself to why these happened under her watch and why we have not heard a peep from her all about them.

That a man investigated by a State tribunal, which I assume the Tánaiste respects, a man we would think would be kept at arm's length from the Government and a man investigated following the awarding by a Fine Gael-led Government of a mobile phone licence, which is a licence to print money given that a five year old child could make money from a mobile phone licence, can end up acquiring a second company through any means is amazing and should be investigated. In the circumstances that have arisen, the Tánaiste should be demanding answers and not coming in here obfuscating and avoiding questions, never mind the fact there were other bidders and other issues into which I will go. The second company, which ends up into the hands of Denis O'Brien through GMC-Sierra, could also become another licence to print money if - this is a very big "if" - the Government can badger and bully the Irish people into paying water charges. That is worthy of investigation.

The secret sale of the company has been raised in the House for years and on numerous occasions. Deputy Catherine Murphy has done us all a huge service and I commend her on her work. She and other Deputies raised it with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance. I raised it during Leaders' Questions and I had my microphone switched off. I hope it will not happen today. Denis O'Brien is so well connected to Fine Gael and owns such large swathes of the media that it has taken us this long to get this far.

I never met him.

On the issue of Siteserv, if the Tánaiste's baying hounds can stop shouting over Deputies speaking, can she answer these questions? Richard Woodhouse, an alleged acquaintance of Denis O'Brien-----

There are people's names in the public arena but I do not want people making accusations against those who are defenceless and are not able to defend themselves here.

The kangaroo is out again.

These are just facts. He was also the head of specialised asset recovery at IBRC and oversaw Denis O'Brien's borrowings with IBRC. Brian Harvey, the CEO of Siteserv, received a personal lump sum of €800,000 as a result of the sale to Millington.

I ask the Deputy to respect the rule.

It is in the public interest.

It is out of order.

These are facts. Siteserv chairman, Hugh Cooney, was also involved in the NTMA, Enterprise Ireland and was reportedly on an American trip with the Taoiseach and Denis O'Brien.

Is she having the inquiry right now and will it be wrapped up by lunchtime?

Lawyers, Arthur Cox, represented both O'Brien and IBRC. Why was there no independent legal representation for the Irish taxpayer? The sale was processed by people with many connections to Siteserv in Davy and KPMG. The big question is why other bidders, making much larger offers, were not even considered. The only tender that included payments to directors was the Millington tender. If that is the case, why is it not in the interests of shareholders to take the bid? If it is true, this is obviously the company that was being positioned to get the water metering contract, which is a licence to print money if the Government can force through water charges. What other sweetheart deals took place, are happening or happened recently at Anglo from the Fine Gael backers? We have already heard about Topaz, the Beacon Hospital, etc. I am getting to the heart of the Government. The Tánaiste used to rant and rave when she was on this side of the House.

That is right, she was on the high moral ground.

Is she satisfied the Minister for Finance has been telling two different stories? He told one story under previous questioning by Deputies that everything was okay and the deal was the best possible one but now we find out, through freedom of information courtesy of Deputy Catherine Murphy, that everything was not okay and the civil servants were not happy.

I must call the Tánaiste and ask the Deputy to conclude.

Is it not incredible that during the winding down of the toxic entity, Anglo, any deal worth this amount of money could be kept away from elected representatives and the Minister for Finance? Does the Tánaiste agree that people looking at their water charge bills are totally justified in not paying them when they hear about the carry on and the people who will be enriched if water metering is forced through?

I disassociate myself, in the context of Leaders' Questions, from a number of the statements naming individuals. I do not know who they are but there is long-standing rule in the House on this.

I know of some of them, but there are other names the Deputy has mentioned. I do not know who those people are.

(Interruptions).

If the Tánaiste were in opposition she would be outraged.

I said earlier that I wanted to see an independent inquiry by a competent authority. That implies - I am sure Fianna Fáil will appreciate this-----

Say the words "commission of investigation".

-----that people in this House who are named-----

Is that the Government's view or the Tánaiste's personal view?

-----are entitled to their good name and reputation under the rules of this House for a very good reason. I do not know many of the names that were mentioned by the Deputy. I want to make that clear that those people are entitled to their good names, and anyone who seeks to carry out a competent inquiry in this matter, as the Deputy well knows, must proceed on that basis if the inquiry is to be carried out successfully.

That is a commission of investigation.

I would not give in to the cheap shots that are being made at the moment by the Deputy in a situation in which those people have no opportunity, if they so wish, to make their own case regarding their situation. I repeat, for the Deputy's information, that I want to see an inquiry by a competent authority.

Regarding people who have received water bills, as the Deputy is aware, well over 1 million people have registered with Irish Water. We need a clean and healthy water supply in this country for ourselves, for our tourism industry, which we hope will provide many jobs, for agriculture, on which many jobs depend, and for foreign direct investment coming to this country-----

Would the Tánaiste like to answer some of the questions?

-----on which hundreds of thousands of Irish people - the Deputy's fellow citizens, neighbours and friends - rely for employment and for financial independence for themselves and their families.

What about people on trolleys? They are forgotten about

I am happy to see an inquiry carried out. The Minister for Finance inherited a relationship framework that was put in place by the previous Government and the Minister for Finance at the time. The purpose of that was to keep politicians at arm's length and for IBRC to conduct its ordinary business without any day-to-day interference by politicians in its affairs, so that it could successfully recover as much money as possible for the Irish taxpayer, salvage as many jobs and businesses as possible, and see those businesses survive and regrow with employment for the benefit of people in this country. That is what the business of the IBRC has been.

It is quite unbelievable that the Tánaiste has come into the Dáil after three days without a proposal as to how this should be investigated.

She just outlined the proposal.

She comes in here and just uses the glib phrase, "an independent inquiry by a competent authority". If she was in any way concerned about the Labour Party's reputation in the Government, she would have come to the House and tried at least to put forward a proposal for investigating this mess.

There was a proposal.

We are delighted that the Deputy is so concerned about the Labour Party. It is very good to hear that.

The Taoiseach-----

Where is the outrage?

The Taoiseach went and rang the bell in the New York-----

Did Deputy Finian McGrath vote for the bank guarantee? He did.

So did Deputy Ó Ríordáin's Government colleagues. The green jersey.

I am just making sure. Deputy McGrath voted for the bank guarantee with his pal, Bertie.

The Taoiseach-----

Who cut the respite care grant?

Did Deputy McGrath vote for the bank guarantee? He did, because Bertie Ahern asked him to.

I will just hang on.

(Interruptions).

This is Leader's Questions.

The Taoiseach went-----

(Interruptions).

Will Deputy McGrath please sit down? His colleague-----

(Interruptions).

Deputy Ó Ríordáin was one of the people who cut the respite care grant, but he is now outraged and he is silenced from the scandal-----

Did Deputy McGrath vote for the bank guarantee?

Deputy Ó Ríordáin is a phoney and he always was a phoney. The people of Dublin Bay North will know that.

Where is Deputy McGrath's pal Bertie now?

The Minister of State should be quiet. I call Deputy Ruth Coppinger. Could we please have order? This is Leaders' Questions.

The election has just been called.

This is a very sensitive issue for Deputy McGrath.

As I said earlier, one would think Fine Gael would be keeping Denis O'Brien at arm's length given the previous connections.

Could the Deputy please stop naming names and making accusations?

It is very hard to speak without naming names.

I would like the Deputy to respect that.

Following on from The Taoiseach's controversial ringing of the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on 19 March 2012-----

What has that to do with anything?

The Tánaiste also attended that conference, rather than keeping a million miles away. On 28 March 2012, she said this in the Dáil, "It is perhaps time for the Government to reflect on how it should in future interact with people against whom adverse findings have been made by tribunals [...] We live in a Republic and the representation of each citizen should be what counts rather than the amount of money a particular citizen can spend. We can look forward to a period of reform in which this Government will change the political landscape and our capacity to report and hold to account lobbyists." She did nothing. She could have changed the terms of reference of the IBRC and the winding down. She is right that Fianna Fáil set it up and that anything could happen, but she had a whole year to do something about it.

We have seen residents jailed for preventing the water meter installation by GMC Sierra-----

In contempt of court.

-----a company that is run by the richest man in Ireland, a media magnate and a tax exile, who has no intention of paying his taxes. He owns the company that is enforcing a water tax on millions of people. That this man should gain from this deal is an outrage.

The Deputy is over time.

This is my final sentence. We have seen this week a Deputy arrested, we have seen Deputy Paul Murphy arrested-----

-----and we have seen the whistleblower John Wilson arrested.

What has that got to do with it?

If this is not Kafkaesque, I do not know what is. I repeat that people sitting out there, worried about the toxic entity of Irish Water, are totally justified in joining the inevitable mass boycott of these bills.

I will go to the United States or the United Kingdom and I will certainly meet with people like stock exchange authorities to promote Ireland for investment, for employment and for business. I make no apology for that, because in the world I live in, working class people actually need jobs, and the important thing is that they get jobs, that they get training and that they get apprenticeships and education, which enable them to become financially independent and to look after themselves and their families. I make no apology for talking about getting people back to work. How dare the Deputy criticise me for promoting Ireland?

(Interruptions).

How dare she criticise me-----

Outrage at last.

The Tánaiste should not have met Denis O'Brien.

-----for promoting employment? How dare she criticise me-----

Please, Deputy Coppinger. The Tánaiste is in possession of the floor.

-----for promoting employment in Ireland and helping people to find jobs in Ireland? I have no idea what her vision-----

He was investigated by a tribunal.

-----for Ireland is. Does she just want nobody to work and no promotion of our country for tourism or visitors?

(Interruptions).

Does she want nobody working in this country? Does she want our agricultural sector lying idle, with nobody working? Her vision seems to be that people should not work at all. I make no apologies to her or to any of her colleagues-----

Outrage at last.

-----for promoting work, employment and investment in this country-----

-----whether in the United States, in the European Union or in the United Kingdom.

Or the Isle of Man.

And insider deals.

What about the Isle of Man?

Deputy Ó Snodaigh should not be robbing my remarks.

The Deputy has a different view. Obviously she is entitled to her view, but I am happy to promote Ireland.

Put on the green jersey.

When the Minister for Finance got critical representations from staff and officials in his Department and he was using the framework inherited from the previous Government, he actually undertook to have the decisions examined.

Did the framework say that the underbidder should be accepted?

Not only that, but he changed the framework-----

He did not. That is the point.

-----and provided an assistant secretary to oversee transactions-----

There was no independent review of the deal.

-----in relation to this company. The problem I have, and maybe that Fianna Fáil also has, although its members set up the company-----

The Tánaiste is using the excuse of "The dog ate my homework."

-----is that this company was essentially part of the mechanisms to deal with the mess, the destruction and the human misery left by the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.

It involved trying to pick up the pieces of hundreds of businesses and get them back on their feet so there could be employment. I want an independent inquiry by a competent authority.

Is that the Tánaiste's personal view or the Government's view?

I do not want the Opposition to prejudge anything and everything that happens because the issue is important and if there is to be an independent, competent inquiry, it must be done properly, as the House deserves.

It is more phoney politics.