Personal Explanation by Minister

The Minister for Finance has given notice to the Ceann Comhairle in writing that he wishes to make a personal explanation and the Ceann Comhairle has decided to permit a personal explanation by the Minister.

I would like to take this opportunity to correct statements I made in good faith to Dáil Éireann on 6 May 2015 during Private Members' business, and in response to Parliamentary Question No. 77 of 30 April 2015, following the discovery of new information.

First, I would like to correct the record in relation to statements I made during Private Members' business on 6 May 2015, in which I stated:

Following the introduction of the new relationship framework and operational framework, the board of IBRC commenced forwarding board packs and minutes of board meetings to the Department of Finance. The April 2012 board pack contained the minutes of the board meetings held on 20 March 2012, 21 March 2012, 28 March 2012 and 13 April 2012. However, there were no minutes included in the April board pack of the board meeting of 15 March 2012, at which we subsequently learned the sale of Siteserv had been approved. This pack of board documents, including minutes to which I referred, was the first pack of board documents and the first minutes forwarded to the Department of Finance under the new relationship framework. IBRC was previously not required to provide this information under the old relationship framework, which Deputy Martin approved when he was a Minister in government.

I would like to amend this statement with the following:

The minutes of the meeting of the board of IBRC from 15 March 2012, which we subsequently learned approved the sale of Siteserv, were included in the monthly board pack which the Department of Finance would have received.

I further stated that:

Following a thorough search of the records and correspondence received, I have been informed that the Department of Finance did not receive board packs or minutes of the IBRC board meetings prior to the introduction of the revised relationship framework that came into operation on 29 March 2012.

I would like to amend this statement with the following:

Following a thorough search of the records and correspondence received, I have been informed that the Department of Finance did receive board packs or minutes of the IBRC board meetings prior to the introduction of the revised relationship framework that came into operation on 29 March 2012.

I would also like to correct the record in relation to statements I made when answering Parliamentary Question No. 77 of 30 April 2015. In the second paragraph I stated:

The Department did not receive board packs or minutes of the IBRC board meetings prior to the introduction of the revised relationship framework that came into operation on the 29th of March 2012.

I would like to amend this statement, and paragraph 2 should now read in full:

The Department did receive board packs or minutes of the IBRC board meetings prior to the introduction of the revised relationship framework that came into operation on 29 March 2012.

In paragraphs 4 and 5, I further stated:

Following the introduction of the new relationship framework, the board of IBRC commenced forwarding board packs and minutes of board meetings. I wish to note that the April 2012 Board pack contained the minutes of the Board meetings held on 20 March 2012, 21 March 2012, 28 March 2012 and 13 April 2012; however there was no minutes included in the April Board pack of the Board meeting of 15 March 2012, which we subsequently learned approved the sale of Siteserv.

Following a thorough search of emails and documents held by the Department of Finance and discussions with the Department officials involved, I am informed that the first record relating to the sale of Siteserv is dated 23 March 2012 and was an email from a member of the public relating to media reports around the sale of Siteserv.

Again, I would like to amend this statement, and paragraph 4 and paragraph 5 should now read, in full:

Following searches of both soft copy data and hard copy files within the Department, discussions with former Department members of staff with responsibility for these matters and discussions with the special liquidators of IBRC, I am informed that officials were not aware of details of the Siteserv transaction until after it was approved by the board of IBRC on 15 March 2012.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

On a point of order, is there any intention to take questions on this specific item?

No. My understanding is that personal explanations should not give rise to questions, debate or comment. It is without debate.

This relates to a parliamentary question I tabled. The reply I got was comprehensively wrong and misleading in a fundamental way. The Minister has now corrected the factual aspect, but has left many unanswered questions regarding, for example, the period before March 2012 and the whole issue of discontinued freedom of information, whatever that was about. That is the first mechanism by which this came to the attention of the Department of Finance officials, apparently. I have been here plenty of times in the past when, if there were such a substantial misleading of the House, Ministers would have been questioned about it.

I have also been here a long time. Under Standing Orders, personal explanations do not give rise to debate.

That is the device being used by the Minister. Given the gravity of the issue - we are about to debate the establishment of a commission of inquiry - it is extraordinary that there would not be questions and answers on this issue, that the Minister would not volunteer to take questions on this issue, and that we would not get notice of this. In the past, people would have gone before committees. Is it envisaged that the Department of Finance will be going before any committee to shed further light on an extraordinary situation? One can see in the first half of the Minister's reply the very categoric statements made-----

We are getting into debate.

-----and not just categoric but political presentation of the issues in a partisan way. We now learn that those were completely in error, yet there is to be no discussion of that. How did that happen? How was the Minister so wrongly advised? Is there any corporate memory of it? In the interest of the House, it is a very shoddy state of affairs that this is the mechanism by which this is being dealt with.

We are not having a debate now. I am sure there is another way of raising it.