Leo Varadkar under pressure to explain Michael D'Arcy appointment

Leo Varadkar under pressure to explain Michael D'Arcy appointment

Both Sinn Féin and Labour have now raised serious concerns and have sought clarity from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (pictured) and the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) on the appointment.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is under pressure to clarify the legality of former Minister Michael D'Arcy's appointment to an investment fund lobby group.

Mr D’Arcy, who is joining the Irish Association of Investment Managers (IAIM), spoke in the Seanad last week in favour of a bill for which funds have been lobbying for the last five years.

Both Sinn Féin and Labour have now raised serious concerns and have sought clarity from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) on the appointment.

Under SIPO rules, ministers and ministers of state are banned from lobbying or being employed by a group that engages in lobbying for a period of 12 months.

Exemptions to this rule can be given, however, Mr D'Arcy has not requested such an exemption.

Just last Wednesday Mr D'Arcy, who has resigned his Seanad seat, spoke in favour of the Investment Limited Partnership bill.

“From my experience, investors are significantly ahead of everyone else,” he told the house.

“They are the people with private equity funds and who administer the monies that will be crucial if we are serious about sustainable finance.”

Just last Wednesday former Minister Michael D'Arcy, who has resigned his Seanad seat, spoke in favour of the Investment Limited Partnership bill. File picture: Mary Browne
Just last Wednesday former Minister Michael D'Arcy, who has resigned his Seanad seat, spoke in favour of the Investment Limited Partnership bill. File picture: Mary Browne

Mr D'Arcy who was a minister for state in the Department of Finance in the last government, also said the financial services sector which employs around 16,000 people "has been arguing, for about four and a half to five years, that without this legislation it cannot advance the private equity side of investment in Ireland".

During the second reading of the bill, Mr Darcy said the current law was out of sync with other European countries in terms of the limits on partnership investment for funds.

Questioning the legality of the appointment, Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty claimed the IAIM lobbied Mr D’Arcy in the past regarding tax breaks worth millions of euros for multinational executives while he was a junior minister.

“Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy has been appointed CEO of this lobby group with immediate effect, just three months after he was minister for state in the Department of Finance," he said.

Labour Finance spokesperson Ged Nash said a situation where the Department of Finance becomes a training ground for corporate careers in the financial services industry cannot be tolerated.

“In 2015 the Labour Party introduced the regulation of Lobbying Act to provide transparency but also cut out the revolving door between politics and big business.

Labour Finance spokesperson Ged Nash (pictured) said a situation where the Department of Finance becomes a training ground for corporate careers in the financial services industry cannot be tolerated. File photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Labour Finance spokesperson Ged Nash (pictured) said a situation where the Department of Finance becomes a training ground for corporate careers in the financial services industry cannot be tolerated. File photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

“This would also be the second Fine Gael junior minister in the Department of Finance in recent years to take up a lobbying position in the finance sector and the perception of former Ministers being used to gain access to the corridors of power, and in particular the formation of regulations and laws is deeply worrying."

In a statement, IAIM said Mr D’Arcy is "fully aware" of SIPO’s guidelines as set out with regards to the responsibilities of former officer holders.

"As CEO of IAIM, Michael D’Arcy will not be engaging in any lobbying activities, in accordance with the cooling-off period for the first twelve months of leaving office," the statement read.

"Michael D’Arcy has always been fully compliant with the guidelines during his time as a politician and will continue to strictly adhere to them now in his new role with the IAIM."

Among those tipped to fill the Seanad seat now vacated by Mr D’Arcy are former Senator Ian Marshall and former Carlow-Kilkenny TD Pat Deering.

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