The Fine Gael leader faced yet more criticism over the controversial March 2012, as he insisted Finance Minister Michael Noonan did not attempt to pull the wool over the Dáil’s eyes in answers to parliamentary questions.
During Leaders’ Questions, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there is a clear need for an “independent commission of investigation” into a series of linked issues ranging from sudden share sales before the deal to Irish Water contracts.
He said the Government-backed investigation by IBRC’s special liquidators Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson has, “at its heart”, a “fundamental conflict of interest” and is the “wrong decision”.
Mr Martin said the fact the coalition has belatedly appointed a retired High Court judge to overview the inquiry to ensure no issues occur is the “first time I’ve ever witnessed” a Government “admit a conflict of interest at the very start”.
Claiming there has never been a proper examination of the deal, and that those in power “cannot show who was buying shares in a company that was going bust” under the current inquiry, he said Mr Kenny had tried to hide Department of Finance issues over the deal and that “the Dáil was misled and there was essentially a cover-up”.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams alleged the current KPMG review is an “extension of the cover-up” and that his own party was “stonewalled” when seeking answers on Siteserv in 2012.
He accused the Coalition of “sitting on this scandal” to hide the “toxic relationship” between government and “big business”.
“Isn’t that why you won’t set up a commission of investigation, because you don’t want the taxpayers to know?” he asked.
Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy said the Coalition’s actions were akin to the “ignorance is strength” slogan in George Orwell’s classic novel about totalitarianism, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
He said KPMG were involved in IBRC and Siteserv and are “utterly compromised” in terms of running an investigation, meaning the inquiry in its current format is “incapable” of finding the necessary answers including those surrounding “the richest, luckiest man in Ireland”, Denis O’Brien.
Mr Murphy said “all of the facts had to be dragged out from the [finance] minister” — asking if Michael Noonan should resign and accusing him of “misleading” the Dáil — a comment that led to a swift rebuke from Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.
Mr Kenny said he has “absolute confidence” in Mr Noonan and denied there was any cover-up.
He said Mr Murphy would be “painting slogans” outside the Dáil akin to “ignorance is strength” if a commission of investigation — which would take months to set up — occurred, and told Mr Martin he would be “first out of the traps” making similar claims.
Responding to Mr Adams, Mr Kenny said the Sinn Féin leader “has a problem with the institutions of the State”.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy, who first raised questions over the Siteserv deal, added: “Does that include KPMG? You’re not getting away with this, Taoiseach. The public will not let you away with this sham.”