First of all, we had the second most powerful elected representative in the State saying he was powerless to adjust salaries and pensions in banks in which controlled 100% of the shares, and today we find out via RTE that the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, when asked if he had confidence in the board and management of IBRC – formerly Anglo and Irish Nationwide – has to contact the bank to find out if he does or doesn’t have confidence, and then doesn’t answer the question he was asked. Confused?
On 19th October 2012, the chairman of IBRC, Alan Dukes who is a veteran colleague of Michael Noonan in Fine Gael, writes to Michael saying he “understands” Minister Noonan has received a question regarding the secondment by Minister Noonan of an employee in his Department of Finance to a senior role at IBRC and that further, Alan Dukes “understands” the question requests Minister Noonan to confirm his “continued confidence in the Board and management of the Bank [IBRC]”
Going back a step before this, it seems that the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams submitted a parliamentary question to Minister Noonan which read
“if he will confirm the reasons a person (details supplied) from his Department was appointed to an initial six month secondment in Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; if he will detail his exact role; if he will confirm the reason it was considered appropriate to second his Department official into IBRC now and not before; if he will confirm that he retains confidence in both the board and management of IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter”
It is not clear when Deputy Adams submitted the question but he received a response on 23rd October, 2012. But the sequence appears to have been:
(1) Deputy Adams submits question to Minister Noonan, asking for information and opinion that should have been entirely in the Minister’s own realm and the realm of the Department of Finance, to provide
(2) Somehow, the question was passed to IBRC, even though the information requested should have been entirely available in the realm of the Department of Finance which seconded Neil Ryan to IBRC.
(3) We then have the chairman of IBRC expressing “significant concern” that Minister Noonan has been asked to express confidence in IBRC
(4) We finally have the answer from Minister Noonan – shown below – which doesn’t express confidence in the bank, it merely says that seconding an employee from the Department of Finance doesn’t betoken a lack of confidence.
Seemingly, the “powerless” minister, when asked if he has confidence in something, needs consult with that something. And this is the key minister negotiating our bank debt with the ECB!
This is the entire parliamentary question and response. RTE was responsible for obtaining the letter shown above, but having considered the letter and the PQ, you might conclude the RTE reporting of the matter today isn’t entirely accurate.
Deputy Gerry Adams : if he will confirm the reasons a person (details supplied) from his Department was appointed to an initial six month secondment in Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; if he will detail his exact role; if he will confirm the reason it was considered appropriate to second his Department official into IBRC now and not before; if he will confirm that he retains confidence in both the board and management of IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: The secondment arrangement for the person referred to in the question is appropriate at this time as IBRC continues to explore opportunities for deleveraging with a view to maximising the recovery for the taxpayer. The addition of this person to the bank’s senior management team, as Head of Market Solutions, brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge to IBRC and will further strengthen the organisation. This arrangement does not in any way infer any lack of confidence on my part in the Board and management of the bank in carrying out the mandate of the bank. The person referred to in the question’s experience in banking coupled with experience as Assistant Secretary in the Dept. of Finance will serve to assist the IBRC management team in identifying deleveraging opportunities and the formulation of strategy. As Head of Market Solutions at IBRC, this person is responsible for all aspects of deal execution in respect of certain designated portfolios. In addition as a member of the Bank’s Group Executive Committee (GEXCO) and the Transaction Review Committee, this person will participate fully in the formulation of strategy for IBRC as a whole.
UPDATE: 12th December, 2012. There was a follow-up question from Deputy Gerry Adams to Minister Noonan on 13th November, 2012, when the Minister does in fact express himself to be “fully confident in the management and the board of IBRC”
Deputy Gerry Adams: To ask the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 138 of 23 October 2012, if he will confirm irrespective of his statement that the secondment of a person (details supplied) into Irish Bank Resolution Corporation should not be adversely inferred as a lack of confidence by him in the management or board of the bank; if it is the case that he retains confidence in the management and the board of IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan : I can confirm that the appointment of this person to IBRC does not in any way reflect a lack of confidence by me in the management or board of the bank. The appointment has proved to be very beneficial for both IBRC and my Department by improving communication between the organisations. I am fully confident in the management and the board of IBRC and I am satisfied that the new appointment is a positive step in the continuing goal of winding down IBRC and maximising the eventual return to the taxpayer.