ODCE avoids Oireachtas Committee for 8 years and counting – Quinlivan
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD today said that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is practically unaccountable to the Oireachtas, after a majority on the Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation last night voted to stop it from attending the Committee to answer questions.
Speaking today, Deputy Quinlivan said;
“Before Christmas, I asked the Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation to invite the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to appear before us to explain a number of very serious revelations about the agency.
“Among these concerns were the ODCE’s investigative methods, the fact that the office has brought no prosecutions or achieved no convictions in the past two years, the extremely limited number of staff working there, totalling just 35, charged with investigating all white collar crime in Ireland, and the fact that the office has surrendered over €6 million of its funding back to the state over the past three years.
“The ODCE, quite skilfully in my opinion, wrote to the Committee highlighting extensive legal issues relating to their appearance. This led to considerable concern on the Committee about potential legal implications.
“The choice of whether to proceed then went to a vote at the Committee, which resulted in the decision being made to defer the invite.
“This episode exposes a serious deficiency in our democratic process. The nature of the ODCE’s business is investigation and prosecution, so there will always be an ongoing trial or investigation, and therefore by this argument the ODCE would never be able to be held accountable and questioned.
“As the record will show, I believed clear guidelines could have been laid down to prevent any discussion of Anglo Irish Bank, avoiding any conflict with any ongoing trial, and other questions as to why the ODCE is failing in its mandate could have been asked.
“A previous invite from Niall Collins TD on May 23rd 2017 to the ODCE was turned down, citing the fact that the ODCE was compiling a report into the botched Sean Fitzpatrick investigation. It seems each time the Committee invites the ODCE to appear before the Committee to answer questions, there is some preventative issue.
“Further, the report from the ODCE furnished to the Minister in relation to the ODCE’s failures in the Sean Fitzpatrick investigation cannot be published, adding further secrecy as to how this agency operates and the problems behind their closed doors.
“I have previously stated this agency is not fit for purpose in its current form, and the inability of the Oireachtas to hold it to account is of extreme concern to me.
“The last time the ODCE was in front of an Oireachtas Committee was in January 2010 – a full 8 years ago. This level of unaccountability and lack of oversight is totally unacceptable.”