I thank the Ceann Comhairle for selecting this issue for debate. Two weeks ago during Leaders' Questions I raised with the Taoiseach the ODCE report on the mishandling of the investigation into the chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Mr. Seán FitzPatrick, and his annual warehousing of personal loans from the bank. I said I had seen the ODCE report and that it was a whitewash. I wish to correct the Dáil record. It was not the original ODCE report that I had seen but a Government account of the investigative failures of the ODCE identified by Judge John Aylmer and the steps being taken to address them. The Minister published that account today. We saw it two weeks ago and I have read it twice. I am sad to say it, but it is a whitewash. In the introduction to the document the Minister wrote that the aim in publishing the account was to present the facts surrounding the investigative shortcomings identified by Judge Aylmer, learn from them and take measures to address them. Where in the document is that done? The document prepared by the Department that I have seen does not do that.
The ODCE report on the collapse of the FitzPatrick trial was requested in May 2017 by the then Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation under section 955 of the Companies Act 2014 following a direct request from the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny. Section 955 requires the director to give information to the Minister and, when requested, account to a committee of the Oireachtas. This is a reporting requirement. The Minister is now telling us that, owing to section 956 on confidential information, she does not have the power to publish the report. I do not accept that. Section 956 does not relate to reports requested under section 955; rather, it deals with protecting confidential information the director has accumulated while performing his or her functions which are set out in section 949. The power contained in section 955 is not a function of the director but a reporting requirement.
The ODCE report is 250 pages long. It has been on the desk of various Ministers in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for 17 months. On the opening pages of the original report the Director of Corporate Enforcement wrote that no information or document had been omitted from it on the basis that it would prejudice the performance of any of his functions. How can the Minister refuse to publish the report when the director has stated nothing in it would interfere with his functions? I do not understand the Minister's argument.