Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mairéad Farrell TD has said the initiation of three separate inquiries into irregularities at Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), amidst the ongoing investigations into conflicts of interest at An Bord Pleanála, shows there are real concerns for corporate governance of public bodies.
As reported in the Irish Independent, three investigations are now underway into claims of financial irregularities at IFI – one senior staff member has been suspended while two board members have recently resigned.
Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan has appointed SC Conleth Bradley to carry out a review. At the same time SC Remy Farrell has been commissioned by Minister Darragh O’Brien to carry out a report into allegations of serious conflicts of interest and other issues at An Bord Pleanála.
Teachta Farrell said:
“Media reports have stated that the governance issues have arisen from the inappropriate use of grant funding, the leasing of agency property as a guest house, and the use of agency vehicles which were not insured, including one that was subsequently involved in a crash.
“Minister Ryan stated over the weekend that SC Conleth Bradley will be investigating separate issues, but he has not clarified what this is in relation to or provided the terms of reference for this investigation. That is simply unacceptable.
“We now have a situation where two senior counsels are having to investigate separate public bodies because of what appear to be very serious corporate governance issues.
“We know that the terms of reference for the Farrell Report are too narrow and do not take into account many other serious concerns which were outlined by the investigative news site the Ditch.
“Minister Ryan has said that he will not be releasing the terms of reference for the Bradley Report.
“Let us not forget that the Mulcahy Report into serious planning corruption in Donegal County Council, which is five years old, remains unpublished.
“The awful irony of this, is that it’s taking place at a time when Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath is having a review of the ethics framework of this country.
“What impact will these reports have on this review? Will they be published or will they be like Bradley report into planning corruption, and just be quietly shelved, left to gather dust and never to see the light of day?
“Reviews and reports into ethical behaviour and corporate governance concerns must be a means to an end. That end is reform for the better – not simply a means of looking busy while it remains business as usual.”