I propose to take Questions Nos. 70 and 71 together.
Recent media reports have suggested that significant irregularities have been identified in Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). However, it is important to note that these matters have been previously addressed in audit reviews and in the Statement of Internal Control, signed off by the Chair earlier this year, and which is required to form part of the IFI’s Annual Report for 2021. The Chair’s report, on behalf of the Board, confirms that issues identified have been addressed and that IFI assets are being appropriately managed.
The inference in the media report referenced by the Deputy, that matters already addressed in the relevant IFI Statement of Internal Control and audit reviews have been subsequently explicitly raised to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), does not reflect the factual position.
As the Deputy may be aware, annual reports and accounts, including annual Statements of Internal Control are prepared by all Public Bodies, including IFI, and are required to be submitted annually, as a matter of course, to the C&AG before being laid before the Oireachtas
Engagement by IFI with the C&AG has been entirely within the well-established, standard process via the submission of the required documents to the C&AG. This customary annual submission related to 2021 was made by IFI on 31 March 2022 well in advance of the issues being raised in media reports.
Separately, I have appointed Mr. Conleth Bradley, Senior Counsel, under Section 18 of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010, (which section is entitled “Removal of Members from Office”, members being members of the Board of IFI) to carry out a review of the exercise by the Board of its functions under the Act.
The review does not in any way relate to other matters raised in the media article. The provisions of section 18 are very specific and relate entirely to the performance of the Board and, therefore, it would not be appropriate to discuss the terms of reference for the review with the IFI executives who form the senior management team. No such discussion has taken place. The terms of reference have been communicated to the Board.