Electoral (Amendment) (Moriarty Tribunal) Bill 2015: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for the implementation of the findings of the Moriarty tribunal, to provide for an increased level of transparency in respect of the funding of political parties and independent candidates, for that purpose to amend the Electoral Act 1997 and other enactments, and to provide for related matters.

I am delighted, on behalf of Renua Ireland, to introduce and publish the Electoral (Amendment) (Moriarty Tribunal) Bill today. This Bill, if accepted, would implement all of the recommendations of the Moriarty tribunal which, unfortunately and despite promises to the contrary, have not been implemented by this Government. Is it any wonder that there is so little trust in the Government and the political system generally? It is almost five years since Mr. Justice Moriarty, in his tribunal report on payments to politicians, found that it is beyond doubt that Deputy Michael Lowry imparted substantive information to Denis O'Brien which was of "significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence". It has since emerged that there has been, for over three years, a Garda investigation following the Moriarty tribunal's findings of suspected criminality in payments to politicians. Extraordinarily, this has not yet led to an investigation file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP. No one has yet been charged and there have been zero consequences for two of the key individuals against whom adverse findings were made. Denis O'Brien, whose massive wealth was accumulated in the aftermath of the granting of the mobile phone licence, now has ownership stakes in most of our media, in water, gas and even in sport in this country. His accumulation of wealth has brought him enormous access and influence. He has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and other members of the Government at international events.

He has been invited by the Government to contribute to national policy think-ins. No agency of the State nor any State bank has shied away from dealing with a man whom the Moriarty tribunal found had transferred cash and benefits worth more than €1 million to the then Minister, Deputy Michael Lowry, who it is said helped Mr. O'Brien to secure the mobile telephone licence.

The Deputy has been asked to move a Bill, not to make a statement.

Yes, these matters are material to both the Moriarty tribunal and the substance of the Bill I am moving.

I do not know about that.

Equally, there have been virtually no consequences for the Deputy who was named in the Moriarty tribunal report. A motion of censure was passed in the House but no further action was taken. On 12 July 2015, it was reported that Topaz, which is now owned by Denis O'Brien who purchased it from the carcass of Anglo Irish Bank last year, awarded Deputy Lowry's company its refrigeration maintenance contract.

Deputies may not make allegations of that nature in the House.

These are not allegations but facts. This contract is reported to be worth more than €1 million per annum to Deputy Lowry and his business. I have no doubt it has helped substantially towards the recent reporting of profit growth of €250,000 and accumulated profits of €1.5 million for the business.

I will not allow the Deputy to use the introduction of a Private Members' Bill to have a cut off individuals who are not able to answer and where we do not know the full facts.

This is material to-----

It is my job to be fair to everybody.

I will stick to the facts.

If the same was being said about Deputy Creighton, I hope I would protect her to the same degree.

I appreciate the Ceann Comhairle's impartiality but this is material to the issue.

It is not appropriate to use the floor of the Chamber to make allegations against people.

Mr. Justice Moriarty described the behaviour of Mr. O'Brien as "disgraceful" and "insidious". Those are the words of Mr. Justice Moriarty and they are the findings of the Moriarty tribunal. The purpose of the Bill is to implement the concrete recommendations of the tribunal's 2011 report. Unfortunately, however, there have been no consequences. A file has rested with the Director of Public Prosecutions for three years. The individual named in the Moriarty tribunal report has threatened and is proceeding to try to silence Parliament through the courts system. That the Taoiseach has left the Chamber is telling. We have not had a response either from the Taoiseach or the Government to defend the interests of this House, the Chamber of Deputies, which is being sued by the individual in question.

The Taoiseach may have left the Chamber but I have no doubt the Chief Whip will convey the following message to him. Given that there have not yet been any concrete, tangible consequences in the criminal sense for any of the individuals named in the Moriarty tribunal report, I hope the Taoiseach will make a clear commitment that no individual named in the report will be invited to make up the numbers to put a Government in office after the next election. That very clear statement of intent could be offered by the Taoiseach to show some degree of leadership. It would also go some way towards rebuilding trust in the political system and creating confidence that corrupt payments to politicians will never again be tolerated in this country. That is what the Bill is about.

I am pleased to recommend the Bill to the House. I look forward to it being debated in this Chamber and seeing the Government parties, which expressed outrage in 2011, supporting us in trying to ensure all the recommendations of the Moriarty tribunal report of 2011 are implemented. That would be a real sign of intent by the Government parties and Opposition.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.