Richard Bruton knew a full two weeks before he told the Cabinet that the Director of Corporate Enforcement was planning to retire.
Internal correspondence seen by the Irish Examiner has raised fresh questions about the manner in which the jobs minister handled Paul Appleby’s on-off retirement.
Mr Appleby announced on Jan 31 that he intended to avail of the Government’s early retirement scheme and step down from his position the following month.
The announcement caused consternation within the Cabinet, which feared that the Anglo inquiry being headed up by Mr Appleby would be affected.
Mr Bruton had only informed the Cabinet of Mr Appleby’s decision that morning, despite having received the director’s formal resignation notice four days earlier, on Jan 27. However, internal correspondence seen by this paper reveals Mr Bruton learned of Mr Appleby’s intention to retire on Jan 16.
The Freedom of Information documentation shows Mr Appleby rang the secretary general of Mr Bruton’s department, John Murphy, on Jan 16 about the issue.
“Having considered the matter, I wish to notify my intention to retire on 29 February 2012,” Mr Appleby wrote in a Jan 16 email to the personnel unit of the department. “A short while ago, I have informed the secretary general by phone of my decision.”
In a subsequent handwritten note outlining the timeline of events leading up to his announcement, Mr Appleby recorded that on Jan 16: “Rang John Murphy + told him of my intention to resign/retire. Explained that in line with contract, letter to minister would issue on 27 Jan. John said he would be advising the minister.”
Mr Bruton’s department last night confirmed the minister was first made aware of Mr Appleby’s intention to retire on Jan 16.
“On the evening of 16th January, on the margins of a meeting about another matter, Minister Bruton was made aware on an informal basis by an official in his department of a conversation in which Mr Appleby had discussed his plans to retire.
“At that stage Minister Bruton was satisfied that discussions were ongoing between his officials and Mr Appleby. Minister Bruton’s priority at this and all stages was to preserve the integrity of the investigation into Anglo.”
The statement added that, after Mr Bruton was told formally on Jan 27 that Mr Appleby intended to retire, he arranged to meet him as soon as possible, and did so on Jan 30.
After Mr Bruton told the Cabinet the next day, the Government asked Mr Appleby to stay on for a further six months.
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