Saturday 25 November 2017

O'Rourke denies fresh claims of interfering in family's legal case

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

MARY O'Rourke is back in the spotlight over a family law case which was dogged by claims of "improper interference" – but says she honestly cannot understand why.

The former Fianna Fail minister is facing fresh claims she contacted a judge on behalf of a constituent. Mrs O'Rourke admits she was contacted by the mother involved in the legal wrangle, a long-running dispute between parents over custody of one of their children.

But Mrs O'Rourke categorically denies making any representations to a judge on her constituent's behalf. The case hit headlines when the High Court's Mr Justice Henry Abbott said he was "quite improperly" asked by a Circuit Court judge about a ruling.

Last week, the presidents of the High and Circuit Courts investigated the matter and concluded there was no prejudice or intended interference.

The woman at the centre of the family law battle has admitted she had contacted Mrs O'Rourke during her court battle with her now ex-husband.

Circuit Court Judge Des Hogan apologised for having a "casual conversation" with Mr Justice Abbott.

But Judge 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".

The presidents of the High and Circuit Courts who investigated the matter said that the raising of the matter by Judge Hogan should not have occurred but could not have influenced Mr Justice Abbott in his ruling of 21 July, 2010, as it was made in the aftermath of that ruling.

"We are also satisfied, as indeed verified by Judge Abbott, that the conversation of July, 2010 (which was one lasting less than one minute) had no effect when three years later he delivered a further ruling," they said.

Irish Independent

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