A leading TD has “worries”, because the chair of the probe into IBRC once acted against the former Anglo bank. However, Catherine Murphy, joint leader of the Social Democrats, did not call for Judge Brian Cregan to step down, though the IBRC deals cost the taxpayer €10m.
Judge Cregan acted for free on behalf of businessman, Sean Quinn, against the bank, at one court session, when he was a senior counsel in 2012.
The judge said he had told officials he had acted for Mr Quinn before he was appointed to the IBRC inquiry, which is due to deliver its final report by the end of the year. Ms Murphy said it would be difficult to find anyone without a potential conflict of interest in Ireland’s small legal pool, but she still had concerns.
“The fact he did it on a pro-bono basis worries me. The inquiry needs to be seen as independent. We were told there would be an interim report by September, but this hasn’t started yet. I feel very frustrated about the way this investigation has played out, to date,” Ms Murphy said.
The Commission of Inquiry has stated Judge Cregan believes there to be no conflict of interest, though he previously acted for Mr Quinn. The investigation into IBRC deals has been controversial, with opposition TDs questioning its remit and time-frame.
Judge Cregan replaced retired high court judge, Daniel O’Keefe, as the probe’s chair, after Mr O’Keefe stood down for “personal reasons” The Government had originally asked KPMG, the liquidators of IBRC, to review the bank’s deal, after Ms Murphy obtained freedom-of-information documents, which showed opposition by Finance Department officials to the sale of a company called Siteserve to a firm controlled by businessman, Denis O’Brien. The Cabinet finally agreed in June to opposition demands for a commission of inquiry.
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