On November 29, 2009 I sent a request to the Department of Finance seeking the diaries of all senior staff at the Department for the period May 2008 to May 2009. In early January I still had not received the requested diaries.
On January 15 I received an email from the Department stating that my request had been mislaid, and that it was in progress. I was promised that the request would be “processed quickly”.
On January 26 I still had not received the results of my request. Two full months had passed, and under the Act this what is called a deemed refusal – where a public body fails to reply to a request within 20 working days. I felt I had given the Department more than sufficient time to answer my request. I therefore sought an internal review. The Department replied with the following:
“While noting your position in relation to the lack of information within the deadline set as being deemed a refusal, you will be aware from my email of 15 January that the information was in the process of being sought and compiled. Notwithstanding your right to an internal review, I would point out that the process of an internal review is likely to take up to 3 weeks from today, as provided for in the legislation. As the information sought is almost ready to send on within the next day or 2, I’m wondering if you wish to re-consider your request.”
I felt that sufficient time had been given, and therefore sought to proceed with the internal review due to deemed refusal. There is no fee for an internal review for a deemed refusal.
Some time later, now into late February, I received a letter containing the results of my internal review. The letter incorrectly stated I had paid 75 euro for the review and simply agreed with the decision of the deciding officer (agreeing with the exemptions applied by the deciding officer). However I did not receive the requested diaries. Pretty much every week for the following four weeks, I again and again sought the diaries, and was again and again promised they would be issued. It was within my right to appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner, but knowing that the Department was facing significant workload I chose not to take this course of action. I called the Department last week, and sought again the documents (along with two other deemed refusals for other requests, more of that anon). I was again promised the documents would be released.
Late last week I finally received a set of diaries, minus one, the diary of the Secretary General of the Department, which I had asked for. I will be following this up with the Department on Tuesday. However I have now, after four months of waiting, received the diaries of senior staff, and will begin the process of sharing these.
From looking at the diaries, the most important is the diary of Kevin Cardiff. Exemptions under Section 28 (Personal Information) Section 21 (Functions and Negotiations of a Public Body), Section 27 (Commercially Sensitive) and Section 26 (Information given in confidence) were used to redact entries in the diary. But I believe there are a significant number of dates critical to the time period between the bank guarantee on September 29, 2008 and Anglo nationalisation in January 2009.
From around October 2008, you begin to see names like Merrill Lynch appearing in diaries. On October 17, 2008 there was a meeting “re recapitalisation” after a meeting with three people from Merrill. On October 21 there were meetings with Andrew Hastings of BNP Paribas, three people from UBS, and a meeting with GE Money. On October 22 there was meeting with Patrick Neary, the then Financial Regulator, followed by a UniCredit bank reception at the Merrion. On October 24 there was a meeting with Mark Stadler of HSBC. On October 28 there was another “recap” meeting, and another meeting with “Merrills” on the 30th. On October 31 there was a meeting with David Drumm and Willie McAteer of Anglo Irish Bank, followed by John Hurley of the Central Bank. The following week there were more meetings, HSBC, AIB, Postbank, EBS and again David Drumm. On November 7, another set of meetings, Denis Casey (ILP), Brian Goggin (BOI) and Frank O’Dwyer.
It was towards late November that the meetings become more frequent:
November 11: Merrill teleconference
November 12: Tadhg Flood – Deutsche
November 13: Philip Brennan, AIB. Tony Grimes, Pat Neary, Con Horan B McDonagh. IBF annual dinner.
November 17: BNP Paribas
November 18: Fergus Murphy/Mark Moran. S&P discussion. Conor Hillery & David Marks. B McDonagh, NTMA (5th floor NTMA).
14.00 – 15.30 Updated: Meet ML at NTMA to be followed by meeting in DOF at 4pm with CBK/FR/Acox/PWC and meeting with Minister at 5pm (NTMA).
November 24: Minister & Andrea Orcel (ML)
November 25: David Drumm re results. Conference call to Clive Maxwell. (REDACTED)
November 26: TIME??? B McDonagh, J Corrigan, B Halpin, C Horan.
November 27: SG & Governor. HSBC (grand canal harbour)
November 28: Irish Nationwide. Irish Life. EBS. AIB. BOI. Anglo.
December 4: Ring (REDACTED) Pat Neary et al
December 23: Patrick Honohan. Pat Farrell re ACS proposal.
January 9: Roadmap meeting. Updated PWC/JLL Metting re their report. Updated: Meet re planning next steps – due diligence etc – makes sense to do straigh after JLL/PWC meeting – ML have Gannt chart setting out key milestones (Boardroom 5th Floor – NTMA).
It is worth reading the entire diary. I will be adding more diaries in the coming weeks. The meeting of November 28 appears to be significant since it was across a number of diaries. Another curious date is May 5. Kevin Cardiff had a meeting with Tom Parlon, Michael O’Flynn (O’Flynn Construction) and Pat Keogh CFO Cosgrave, at the boardroom on the 5th floor of the NTMA. Likely inquiring into NAMA?