FOUR TDs want to be joined to a businessman's legal challenge to the Government's payment of promissory notes, the Supreme Court heard today.
Independents Clare Daly, Luke Flanagan and Mick Wallace and People Before Profit's Joan Collins want to participate in an appeal against a High Court decision rejecting David Hall's challenge to the payment of the notes issued in favour of the former Anglo Irish Bank and other financial institutions.
Deputy Collins said today the case raises important issues concerning the powers the Minister for Finance has under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008 - to make financial transactions.
The State argued today any such challenge may be pointless given the Government's move to liquidate Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo, as part of its plan to defer payment of the promissory notes over a longer period.
The action by Mr Hall, College Grove, Castleknock, Dublin, a founder member of the New Beginning group of business people and lawyers, is aimed at preventing the State making payments on foot of promissory notes issued from March 2010 in favour of IRBC, the Educational Building Society and Irish Nationwide Building Society. Some €31bn such payments have been made to date.
During the hearing last month, Mr Hall argued the Minister for Finance was not entitled to pay the notes unless such payment was authorised by a Dail vote. It was accepted by both sides during the hearing there was no such vote but the Minister and State said Mr Hall did not have the necessary legal standing to bring the case and also denied the specific mandate of the Dail was required for payment of the notes.
In his judgment, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, ruled Mr Hall did not have the required legal standing and only a TD could bring such an action.
Mr Hall has appealed to the Supreme Court and, when the appeal was mentioned yesterday, his counsel John Rogers SC asked for an urgent hearing. The case raised important issues about the payment of public monies without Dail approval and four TDs wanted to be joined to it as plaintiffs and appellants, he said.
Mr Rogers urged the Supreme Court to, in the appeal, address the "principal issue", the lawfulness of paying the promissory notes without Dail approval.
Michael McDowell SC, for the State, said the appeal could only address the issue on which there was a High Court finding - legal standing.
The proposed joining of the TDs was a bid to get around that finding, counsel added.
The State also submitted that, "under no circumstances", could the Supreme Court address the issue of the constitutionality of the legislation under which the promissory note payments were made, Mr McDowell said.
While the issue of payment of public monies was an "extremely important" matter, the High Court had ruled Mr Hall had no legal standing to raise that, he said.
Mr McDowell also said it was "fairly obvious" matters had changed with the passage of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013 providing for the winding up of IBRC and "reconfiguration" of the liabilities of the State to that bank.
Negotiations in Frankfurt today "would or could have a very significant bearing" on whether Mr Hall's case became moot in its entirety, counsel said. In all those circumstances, the case did not deserve priority, he argued.
The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, said an application could be made on February 15 seeking permission for the four deputies to be joined. The Supreme Court would address what priority should be given to Mr Hall's appeal later, she said.