Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has insisted that embattled Fine Gael colleague John Perry has “done nothing wrong”.
Mr Varadkar said that the small business minister had his “full support” and he did not expect him to lose his job.
Mr Perry has six weeks to repay loans of €2.47m after he consented to judgment being entered against him and his wife at the Commercial Court over the debt. Failure to repay the loans could mean Mr Perry facing bankruptcy, a move that would see him unable to remain a TD.
Mr Varadkar said none of his cabinet colleagues had suggested Mr Perry’s position was untenable.
“He’s a very good colleague and a very good minister. From what I have seen, it appears he experienced a lot of what people have in this financial recession. He made a number of investments and business ventures that didn’t work out. I certainly don’t see any evidence of wrongdoing, and I certainly don’t think he should lose his job over it.
“He certainly has my full support. I can’t speak for everyone, but no one has suggested otherwise. Nothing criminal, nothing illegal, no wrongdoing, and I don’t think there’s any case for someone to lose their job.”
He said the case showed that everyone was equal before the law.
“Back in the 1980s, ministers used to be able to get special deals from banks and had loans and mortgages written off. We don’t live in that country any more, and this is very clear evidence that the same laws and rules apply to everyone, as they should,” he said.
Mr Perry told Danske Bank in Jan 2012 that Bank of Ireland had agreed to give him a 10-year loan to help him address tax arrears of about €100,000, according to Danske’s minutes of meetings held with Mr Perry over loan repayment arrears.
Mr Perry also told Danske that AIB had agreed to give him an 11-year loan to pay €125,000 to other creditors and his other lenders had agreed to continue facilities on an interest-only basis, the minutes state.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has demanded that Taoiseach Enda Kenny clarify if he received any notification from Mr Perry of a possible conflict of interest arising from his debts.
Mr Doherty said rules of the Standards in Public Office mean an office holder is obliged to inform Sipo and the Taoiseach of any such conflict.
“There is now an onus on the Taoiseach to clarify if he received any notification of a possible conflict of interest arising from Minister Perry’s personal debts. If he did receive such notification what action did he take? And if he didn’t, what action does he now intend to take?” asked Mr Doherty.
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