I congratulate my colleague, Deputy Catherine Murphy, on her dogged persistence in pursuing this matter. She said it was like pulling hens' teeth. We know from the so-called answers to parliamentary questions she asked on these issues there was definitely at least one cover-up. It was only when Deputy Murphy submitted a freedom of information request that the Department of Finance revealed there were serious tensions between departmental officials and senior members of IBRC. Given the fact that IBRC was charged with recovering as much as it could on behalf of the State and the Irish people, the relations between this nationalised entity and the Department of Finance necessitate a full and proper inquiry. We should never forget that €25 billion in State funds was put into the dead carcasses of the bankrupt banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. I believe this was unconstitutional, as this House did not vote on spending these State funds. I hope the matter will come before the Supreme Court this year.
Given the scale of this €35 billion, which equated to almost 20% of our national income at the time, we need complete and absolute transparency on IBRC and its dealings after its liquidation. The people have a right to know whether wealthy and powerful individuals and the corporations they control were given very special treatment. We must remember that 10% of the wealthiest people in the country own 54% of the wealth while the bottom 20% own nothing but debt. This is particularly important, given the findings of the Moriarty tribunal on Mr. O'Brien. It found it was almost without doubt that a company controlled by Denis O'Brien, Esat Digifone, won the mobile phone licence competition through the then Fine Gael Minister, Michael Lowry.
The tribunal found that Mr. Lowry unduly influenced the bidding process. These events formed the basis of Denis O'Brien's subsequent fortune, so what happened at that time is linked directly to the tribunal. We know from the Moriarty tribunal that he is well able to use his contacts and influence for commercial advantage.
There has been no criminal follow-up to the outcome of the Moriarty tribunal. In the real world outside this building, families with distressed mortgages are being pursued for every cent up to the point of being made homeless or put into distressed situations leading to suicidal tendencies. There are no favours and no special deals for ordinary people in this country. The dogs in the street know that there is a golden circle which operates at the top of Irish society. I hope this inquiry gets to some of the truth, but on past evidence I am extremely doubtful about that. The Government's U-turn on the need for an independent inquiry is nothing more than the usual political stroke. The previous attempt to bury this issue proved untenable so the issue has now been kicked to touch, and anyone who believes this inquiry will report before 31 December or before a general election is living in Disneyland.
During the winding up of IBRC and its aftermath, other issues emerged around the payment of workers. This took a long time to be resolved, and there was persistent pressure from the unions. Another issue was the selling off of the mortgages of Irish Nationwide. I received a letter today from a couple in Lucan whose mortgage had been sold by IBRC to Shoreline Residential Limited. They are still in the throes of dealing with it and the company is trying to make them buy out their home. They are under a lot of pressure from this company. They say that, just recently, Shoreline told them through Pepper Finance Limited that they might look at restructuring their loan but this is not a solution. They say that another company, to which their loan might be off-loaded, is not an ethical company because when it started operating in southern Ireland it had no licence to operate. It also put interest rates up without notice and uses subterfuge to make its customers stay with them. The couple's response to that is, "No thanks, Shoreline. We do not want a solution from you; we need help." This couple is seeking help from us as elected representatives. They said they had written to the Minister, Deputy Noonan, and to the Taoiseach, but had received no response on how their mortgage was being dealt with. These issues, relating to the aftermath of the selling off of these mortgages to vulture funds which are now capitalising on the situation, should also be looked at as part of the investigation. They do not even know how much their mortgage was sold for and whether what they are paying back is equal to that.
I will support the motion for the investigation, but there should at least be a six-month review relating to Siteserv and the judge should be told that the Government wants that issue sorted out quickly. The other issues should be dealt with as soon as possible afterwards, and in any event before 31 December, although I doubt that will happen.