Another stinging attack on tribunal

ESAT founder Denis O’Brien has launched another stinging criticism of the Moriarty Tribunal.

Mr O’Brien again accused the tribunal’s chairman, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, and one of its legal team, Jerry Healy, of bias in their conduct during the inquiry.

In an interview on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny programme, Mr O’Brien said he was unconcerned that the report has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“It’s all hearsay. It’s gossip. Innuendo,” said Mr O’Brien.

However, the interview, which contained several robust comments made by Mr O’Brien about Mr Justice Moriarty and Mr Healy, was withheld from a podcast of the Today with Pat Kenny programme uploaded on the RTÉ website later yesterday.

Mr Kenny also remarked at the end of the interview that Mr O’Brien’s comments were not shared by RTÉ — an indication it had some concerns about libel.

Mr O’Brien is one of seven individuals identified in the Moriarty Report as being engaged in “persistent and active concealment” of evidence from the inquiry who could face prosecution.

The other six are Mr O’Brien’s father, Denis O’Brien senior; Michael Lowry, Mr O’Brien’s accountant and financial adviser, Aidan Phelan; English solicitor Christopher Vaughan; Mr Lowry’s accountant Denis O’Connor; and Northern Ireland businessman Kevin Phelan.

Under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) (Amendment) Act 1979, anyone who is found guilty of obstructing or hindering the work of an inquiry can face a maximum fine of €12,700 and/or a term of imprisonment of two years.

The DPP will also have to decide if the payments made to Mr Lowry by Mr O’Brien could be deemed corrupt under legislation, while he must also consider the finding that the Independent Tipperary North TD and the former supermarket owner, Ben Dunne, engaged in a “profoundly corrupt” act by trying to influence the outcome of a property arbitration hearing.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday described criticisms of the judiciary as “unprecedented” and said they were designed to bring the judiciary into disrepute and to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

“The independent and impartial role of the judiciary and their constitutional status precludes the judiciary from responding to the intemperate attacks that have occurred. 'Statements which endanger public confidence in our judiciary and in our courts are entirely unacceptable and are to be deplored,” he said.

Meanwhile, the losing runner-up in the mobile phone licence competition, Persona, said the Moriarty Report confirmed its own serious concerns about the way the licence was awarded. Persona co-founders, Tony Boyle and Michael McGinley, said they would continue to seek justice through the courts.

In response, Mr O’Brien said it beggared belief that Persona’s founders had sat on their hands for the past 15 years while “hijacking” the machinery of the state to make their case for them.

Meanwhile, a Dublin legal firm criticised in the Moriarty Report said it “completely disagreed” with the findings of the tribunal chairman regarding its practice.

The managing partner of L K Shields, Hugh Garvey, was accused by Mr Justice Moriarty of causing needless difficulties, lengthy delays and significant expense.

“The firm utterly rejects any inference that it misrepresented any matter related to the position of its clients or improperly contributed to any delays incurred in the Tribunal process,” said L K Shields last night.

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