Commission to probe senator’s expenses

The Court of Appeal has cleared the way for an investigation by the Standards in Public Office Commission into the alleged duplication of expenses claims by Fianna Fáil senator Brian Ó Domhnaill.

The three-judge court rejected an appeal by the senator against the High Court’s dismissal of his challenge to the 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 set to begin a public session on the expenses matter in June 2012 but that was put on hold after Mr Ó Domhnaill secured leave from the High Court days earlier to bring his challenge.

In his judicial review proceedings, Mr Ó Domhnaill claimed the commission was not entitled to deal with the matters as they arose from an anonymous complaint by a member of the public.

He sought orders requiring the case to be heard by bilingual commission members who are able to conduct and understand the proceedings without the assistance of an interpreter.

The commission and State contended that the complaint being investigated concerned alleged duplication of expenses claims and the investigation is in the public interest.

The commission said the complaint before it 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 made to them by the council Ethics Registrar.

While the commission acknowledged that infor- mation in an anonymous letter had prompted the Ethics Registrar to examine matters, it argued the complaint being investigated by it was not a referral of that anonymous letter by the mayor and county manager but rather a complaint by those men arising from their view certain specified acts set out in their report may have been done by Mr Ó Domhnaill.

The commission said there was no constitutional right to a bilingual court or tribunal. Mr Ó Domhnaill had from August 2011 until last March, when he changed solicitors, engaged with and addressed matters related to the expenses issue in English, it also claimed.

The Court of Appeal disagreed the complaint was anonymous and found the substantive complaint before the commission was one made by the mayor and county manager of Donegal County Council. It rejected arguments there was a requirement for the commission members hearing the complaint to be bilingual.

Costs issues will be dealt with in October.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.