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DPP called in over Moriarty findings

GARDAI are still deliberating over whether they should launch a criminal investigation into the Moriarty Tribunal on payments to politicians, 10 months after the tribunal findings were published.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been called in by the Garda Commissioner to advise on how to proceed because of the complex legal issues involved.

This means a decision on whether the former minister, Michael Lowry, should face investigation over some financial transactions identified in the report will take weeks if not months.

A team of Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) officers spent the last six months examining the tribunal's findings to identify potential offences worthy of investigation, on the orders of the Garda Commissioner.

The agency reported to the Commissioner late last year but it said further inquiries should be made before deciding on whether to launch a full-blown investigation.

The Moriarty Tribunal's report, published last March, found that Mr Lowry, a former Fine Gael minister, had received "payments and other benefits" furnished by and on behalf of Denis O'Brien, the entrepreneur who won the State's first lucrative mobile phone licence.

Both Mr Lowry and Mr O'Brien vigorously denied the findings.

Mr Lowry also said he didn't want the Moriarty report to be sitting in Garda Headquarters indefinitely.

"I want a result, I want a decision, and I think I'm entitled to that after this prolonged period of time," he said.

He told the Dail that he wasn't a criminal, that he wasn't under investigation by the CAB and that he had never been convicted of any charge.

It will be up to the Garda Commissioner to decide whether those further inquiries should proceed and which agency, if any, should conduct them.

The CAB's review was supposed to take weeks but ended up taking more than six months. The review was led by Chief Superintendent Eugene Corcoran, who heads the agency.

One of the issues is that Mr Justice Moriarty's report will not be admissible as evidence in a potential criminal investigation.

If one proceeds, gardai will have to re-interview hundreds of witn-esses.

Sunday Independent