June 8, 2017
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has today highlighted a parliamentary reply that she has received from Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor in relation to resources for the ODCE.
In the reply the Minister makes clear that prior to embarking on the Sean Fitzpatrick case, the ODCE were given every opportunity as far back as 2011 to seek extra resources but both the ODCE and the Gardaí ‘stressed’ to both the Departments of Justice & Enterprise that they had ‘adequate resources.’
This, according to Deputy Murphy, sits at odds with the recent revelations of the ODCE’s handling of the case and other failings of the office.
The reply further confirms that in May 2015 then Minister Richard Bruton was made aware by the ODCE that documents related to the Sean Fitzpatrick case had been destroyed as well as other weaknesses in the investigation.
Catherine Murphy TD said:
“The reply to me couldn’t be clearer; in 2011 both the Gardaí and the ODCE refused to accept that they needed additional resources to conduct the Fitzpatrick investigation. They declined offers of help and proceeded with an investigation that has proven to have been flawed and insufficient from the outset.
“In addition, and to make matters worse, it transpires that the Minister at the time, Richard Bruton was fully aware of the deliberate destruction of pertinent documents. If he was aware in 2015 then we can assume that the DPP was also aware and yet this case, which never stood a chance, was allowed to proceed at great cost to the State. In effect it was a showpiece which was only ever going to end one way.”
8 June 2017
NOTES TO EDITORS:
QUESTION NO: 262
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor) by Deputy Catherine Murphy for WRITTEN ANSWER on 31/05/2017
To ask the Minister for Jobs; Enterprise and Innovation the engagement her department had with the ODCE in advance of a case (details supplied); if resources were discussed in the context of that case; the decisions made; if the attention of her department was drawn to the shredding of documents; if so when; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) (Sean Fitzpatrick) case
Under the provisions of the Companies Act 2014, the Director of Corporate Enforcement is independent in the exercise of his functions.
On March 16, 2011, the Secretaries General of the then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and the then Department of Justice and Law Reform met with the Garda Commissioner and officials from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The meeting was arranged to ensure that all appropriate resources were available to the Gardaí and the ODCE to progress their investigations. It was made clear at the meeting that the independence of all the agencies involved in carrying out the investigations was fully respected and there was a clear desire at all levels that nothing would be done which would in any way impinge on that.
In response to inquiries, both the Gardaí and the ODCE stressed that as far as they were concerned they had adequate resources. The Commissioner stressed that both himself and his predecessor had at all times ensured that the Garda team had all the resources they required. For their part, the ODCE were satisfied with the resources available to them and had received anything that they looked for. If they felt at any stage that anything further was required they would, of course, look for it.
Both the Gardaí and ODCE were asked to reflect again on whether there was anything at all by way of additional help that could be made available to them in their work. It was stated that any such requests would be responded to positively.
The then Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., met the Director of Corporate Enforcement with Department officials on 6 May 2015. At that meeting, the Minister was informed of the destruction of documents and other weaknesses in the investigation.
As the matter was before the courts, it was sub judice. It was considered that no steps should be taken that would interfere with the prosecution of the case and the separation of powers between the Executive and the Judiciary.