TDs in court to support challenge on promissory note payouts
THREE TDs turned up in the High Court to support a man's challenge to the State paying promissory notes for more than €31bn in aid of Irish financial institutions.
Independents Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly, and People Before Profit's Joan Collins, were supporting businessman David Hall's challenge to the legality of the notes.
Mr Ross and Mr Donnelly also wrote to Finance Minister Michael Noonan threatening to take their own legal action if he enters into an agreement to restructure the notes without the approval of the Dail, the court heard yesterday.
Mr Hall, of College Grove, Castleknock, Dublin, wants to prevent the State from making payments on foot of the notes issued in favour of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the Educational Building Society and Irish Nationwide.
Mr Hall – a founder member of the New Beginnings group of business people and lawyers – says the Government's procedure on the promissory notes was unlawful, and represented "a blank cheque", which was not provided for in the Constitution and should be specifically approved by the Dail.
The finance minister rejects his claims and says they are based on a misapprehension of the procedures for approving expenditure and borrowing by the State.
The minister also claimed that because Mr Hall was not a member of the Dail, he did not have the required legal standing to bring his challenge.
No member of the Dail had challenged the notes despite the "considerable political controversy" about them, the State pointed out in its submissions.
Solicitor Tony Williams, on behalf of the three TDs, told the court his clients wanted to make it clear that they were supporting the case and had all made public comments on the promissory notes issue.
Mr Ross and Mr Donnelly had written to Mr Noonan specifically on the issue and were told that he was constrained by the ongoing litigation involving Mr Hall and the issues raised would be dealt with in the court case, he said.
The TDs believed it would be "a shame" if any issue was to be taken in the hearing as to Mr Hall's standing, he said.
His clients did not wish to be joined in the case and only wished the court to be made aware of their position.
Michael McDowell, for the minister and the State, said he had no objection to correspondence from the TDs being admitted, saying it would strengthen his side's case.
Counsel said the correspondence demanded an assurance the minister would not enter an agreement to pay the promissory notes without prior approval of the Dail and also threatened separate litigation.
The minister also said the approval of the Dail would be sought at the appropriate time and an assessment of that issue could best be made "when the shape of a final agreement was fully apparent and finalised".
The letters from two of the TDs showed they were fully aware of Mr Hall's litigation but they had chosen not to participate in it, Mr McDowell said.
Following submissions from counsel for both sides at the end of Mr Hall's case, High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said he had a lot of things to think about and reserved his judgment.