Some adverse findings are removed from Mahon probe interim report
Sections of the €159m Planning Tribunal are falling apart - with adverse findings against a series of individuals being removed from interim reports which were published more than a decade ago.
Builders Thomas and Michael Bailey are among 11 people listed on the Mahon Tribunal website who have had all adverse findings removed.
However, adverse findings remain in relation to former Fianna Fáil Minister Ray Burke.
In addition, adverse findings against former assistant city and county manager, the late George Redmond, have been removed - but a finding of corruption against him in the fifth and final report remains.
The changes have no impact on the findings of Mahon Tribunal's final report dealing with the finances of Bertie Ahern, although the former Taoiseach is likely to be watching the latest developments with interest.
An "explanatory statement" posted on the Tribunal website says alterations have been made to its Second and Third Interim Reports published in 2002 and 2004 respectively.
The Second Interim Report was based on allegations made by whistleblower James Gogarty against Mr Burke and other individuals. The Third Interim Report dealt with allegations based on Mr Gogarty's claims relating to Mr Redmond.
Both reports had been prepared and written by Mr Justice Feargus Flood, the then sole member of the Tribunal in 2002.
The statement explains that inquiries undertaken by him between 1998 and 2002, culminating in the public hearings that took place during that period, formed the basis of the two interim reports. In the course of those inquiries "certain prior witness statements were not circulated, or were circulated in partly redacted format, to interested parties".
The statement says the decision my Mr Justice Flood to proceed in this manner was "taken in good faith and in circumstances where he believed that doing so was legally sound and was in the interests of conducting the complex inquiries then underway in as efficient a manner as was possible".
He made the decision independently, but had sought and received legal advice beforehand, it adds.
The practice continued until it was successfully challenged by builder Owen O'Callaghan in 2005, in respect of the Tribunal's inquiries then underway in relation to prior statements made by Tom Gilmartin. The prior statements in question were then released in full to interested parties and the opportunity to recall and re-examine witnesses was offered.
"The Tribunal has, having considered written submissions from those parties, removed parts of the Second and Third Interim Reports (including some findings)", the statement says.
"All adverse findings have been removed in relation to Oliver Conlon, Jack Foley, Oliver Barry, James Stafford, John Mulhern, Joseph Murphy Snr, Joseph Murphy Jnr, Frank Reynolds, Thomas Bailey, Michael Bailey and Caroline Bailey.
"Adverse findings remain in relation to Ray Burke, Tom Brennan, Joseph McGovern, John Finnegan, Tim O'Keeffe, Roger Copsey and John Bates."