FF senator expenses probe gets green light

A High Court judge has cleared the way for an investigation into the alleged duplication of expenses claims by Fianna Fáil senator Brian Ó Domhnaill.

FF senator expenses probe gets green light

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan yesterday dismissed on all grounds a challenge by Mr Ó Domhnaill to the Standards in Public Office Commission investigation concerning travel and subsistence claims made by him between 2006 and 2007, when he was a member of Donegal County Council.

The Commission was due to begin a public session concerning the expenses matter in June but that did not proceed after Mr O Donhnaill secured leave days earlier to bring a challenge.

Mr Ó Domhnaill claimed the Commission was not entitled to deal with the matters because, he said, they arose from an anonymous complaint by a member of the public.

Alternatively, he sought orders requiring the case to be heard by a Commission comprising members who are bilingual and able to conduct and understand the proceedings without the assistance of an interpreter.

Unless the tribunal was bilingual, his rights as an Irish speaker would be infringed, he said. He would be disadvantaged if an interpreter was necessary to translate evidence and submissions given on his behalf in Irish, as translator evidence is not similar to direct evidence, he claimed.

Opposing the case, the Commission and State said the complaint concerned alleged duplication of expenses claims and the investigation is in the public interest.

The Commission said the complaint was made in a letter dated May 28, 2012, sent to it by the mayor and county manager of Donegal County Council following their investigation of a referral to them by the Ethics Registrar of the Council.

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