Saturday 25 November 2017

O'Brien hearing date may be sought for later this month

Denis O'Brien: legal challenge
Denis O'Brien: legal challenge

Tim Healy

A date may be sought later this month for the hearing of businessman Denis O'Brien's legal action against the Dáil Committee on Procedures and Privileges.

The case was adjourned yesterday to allow for the further exchange of legal documents between the sides. The State's defence must be provided by October 23.

Conor Power SC said that Mr O'Brien had raised a "novel" issue concerning whether Ireland was entitled to tell the Oireachtas not to interfere with the courts and he required time to address that.

Eileen Barrington SC, for Mr O'Brien, and Sara Moorhead SC, for the committee, told High Court Deputy Master Angela Dening about exchanges of legal documents between the parties.

The Deputy Master made directions for the exchange of legal documents between the parties and returned the matter for mention to October 28, when a hearing date may be sought. The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, had previously said the case was "important but not urgent".

Mr O'Brien claims that the committee breached his constitutional rights and interfered with the role of the courts.

He has sued the members personally and has also named Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett and Attorney General Máire Whelan in the case.

Mr O'Brien initiated his action after the committee ruled that Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had not abused privilege in making claims against him in the Dáil.

He is seeking a declaration that the 10 TDs on the committee are guilty of an "unwarranted interference" with the operation of the courts and have caused or permitted a breach of his constitutional rights.


Ms Barrington, for Mr O'Brien, said directions had been given for delivery of defences and extensions of that time were sought.

Agreement had also been reached on terms for delivery of transcripts and the committee was to provide its defence within two weeks of delivery.

Ms Barrington asked that the case go back for three weeks, after which they hoped to be able to seek a date.

Irish Independent

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