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Saturday 10 December 2016

Publication of Moriarty report to be held back for a month

Sam Smyth

Published 04/01/2010 | 05:00

The most controversial finding will be on the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone

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THE Moriarty Tribunal is now expected to hold the publication of its much-anticipated report until next month.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dail it would be "ready for publication in early January", amid speculation about the damage it will inflict on named individuals and the State's reputation.

But the Irish Independent understands that the final report of the 12-year and €39m investigation into payments to politicians will be available in mid-February. The most controversial finding will be the section on the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone, the consortium headed by businessman Denis O'Brien. Michael Lowry, the former minister for communications and now an independent TD, last week said he wanted the Moriarty Tribunal to recall him as a witness.

Mr Lowry, who last gave evidence in 2005, said that the tribunal could not publish its final report before hearing further evidence from him. "I have a legal entitlement under tribunal legislation, because I am the one being inquired into, I have an entitlement to be the final witness," he said.

However, senior legal sources say that the matter of witnesses called in a tribunal is for the chairman to decide.

In an interview with a newspaper last year, Mr O'Brien said he believed the tribunal has taken a view that the licence, understood to have been the most profitable ever awarded by the State to any company, had been issued illegally.

Mr O'Brien gave an outline of what he described as 60 negative findings against him in newspapers last July when he said: "There are 60 negative findings and they are all wrong."

Fears

The telecoms billionaire was speaking about the provisional findings concerning him in the Moriarty Tribunal that had been circulated to him in October 2008. If Mr O'Brien's fears about what he interpreted from the provisional findings are realised in the final report, it will also shred the reputations of Irish politics, the civil service and Irish business.

A report highlighting low ethical standards in the highest places in Irish public life -- coming after the findings of the Murphy report into clerical child abuse -- would cause untold damage to the Republic's international standing.

In his interviews last year, Mr O'Brien believed that Mr Justice Moriarty was unlikely to alter his provisional findings in the tribunal's final report. Mr O'Brien and Mr Lowry are expected to vigorously challenge any negative findings by the tribunal.

Irish Independent

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