Tuesday 20 February 2018

Father in family law case claims former minister 'interfered'

Mary O'Rourke: cleared by a judicial inquiry
Mary O'Rourke: cleared by a judicial inquiry
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

FORMER Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke was accused of "interfering in public judicial matters" by the father at the centre of a hotly disputed family law case which led to the former minister being cleared by a judicial inquiry.

The father wrote to Ms O'Rourke earlier this year and accused her of political interference because his estranged wife visited her constituency clinic three years ago where she discussed her predicament over the family law proceedings.

Ms O'Rourke wrote back to the man to confirm that his wife had visited her clinic, but strenuously denied making any representations to a judge.

Earlier this week Circuit Court Judge Des Hogan denied he was solicited or requested by a politician or any other party to intervene in the case and has rejected suggestions he "tried to meddle in a family case".

Judge Hogan apologised for having a "casual conversation" with High Court Judge Mr Justice Henry Abbott about a ruling he gave in a family law case.

The conversation gave rise to an inquiry led by High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns and Circuit Court President Mr Justice Ray Groarke.

According to the report in a Sunday newspaper that prompted the investigation, a ruling issued last July by Judge Abbott in the family law case mentioned how he was queried about aspects of the case by an unnamed Circuit Court judge.


He said this judge (Hogan) had "improperly" made the approach following a representation from a former TD, believed to be Ms O'Rourke.

Judge Abbott is himself a former Fianna Fail TD, elected in 1987 alongside Ms O'Rourke and Albert Reynolds as TDs for Longford Westmeath.

Judge Abbott lost his seat at the 1989 General Election.

Last night, Ms O'Rourke said that she wanted to draw a line under the controversy.

"The whole thing has been an absolute nightmare," said Ms O'Rourke. She said that in more than 40 years as a politician at local and national level she had never made any representation to a judge.

Judge Hogan met Judge Abbott in the yard of the Four Courts building on July 21, 2010, days after Judge Abbott delivered a ruling in the family law case. In a "casual conversation", lasting less than a minute, Judge Hogan said he asked Judge Abbott was it true that he had made a particular order in the case.

Judge Abbott took exception to the question, according to a statement released on the judges' behalf by the Courts Service.

Justices Kearns and Groarke said that the raising of the matter by Judge Hogan should not have occurred – but could not have influenced Judge Abbott in his ruling of July, 21, 2010, as the conversation took place in the aftermath of that ruling.

Irish Independent

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