Speaking as the Dáil voted in favour of the commission of investigation terms of reference by 119 votes to 20, Sinn Féin finance spokes-person Pearse Doherty said he is “as sure as I can be” that his claims are “true and accurate”.
Despite Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton saying the terms will allow for the investigation of his claims, the Donegal TD and other opposition politicians said this view is open to legal challenge.
On Tuesday night, Mr Doherty told the Dáil Mr O’Brien was turned down by IBRC’s group credit committee three times after asking for more time to repay a €315m loan. After being told his loans could be sold to a third party, Mr O’Brien is alleged to have threatened protective legal proceedings to prevent this due to a pre-existing “verbal agreement” — with the extension subsequently allowed.
KPMG said the claims are “wholly inaccurate and misleading” and do not “reflect the facts of this case”.
Mr Doherty told reporters he is certain of his facts. He said his “sole” reason for making the information public was to highlight how issues occurred outside the investigation’s January 21, 2009, to February 7, 2013, scope and he will “consider” making further details public under privilege.
As ministers defended the terms, People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the probe needs to examine if the money Mr O’Brien used to buy Siteserv was borrowed from “publicly-owned bank” AIB while owing €500m to IBRC.
After a tense exchange between Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming over a lack of action over the Moriarty Tribunal, Independent TD Shane Ross listed previous inquiries which failed to change anything. Fellow Independent TD Tommy Broughan said Mr Noonan should resign, while Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson Timmy Dooley said the “caveat” that “even though there’s no evidence to suggest” illegality is pointless.
At leaders’ questions, Mr Bruton saw his “absolute assurance” from the attorney general Mr Doherty’s claims fall within the inquiry be rejected by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
Meanwhile, 2008 to 2013 High Court judge Daniel O’Keeffe has been appointed to oversee the investigation.
The 72-year-old chartered accountant is chair of the Standards in Public Office Commission and led the 2007 public service benchmarking body which provided the last pre-crash pay rises.