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Wednesday 25 April 2018

FF senator demands probe into expenses is conducted in Irish

Politician claims his rights would be infringed

Fiach Kelly and Tim Healy

A PROBE into a Fianna Fail senator's expenses has been delayed after he insisted the investigation must be carried out in Irish.

A public hearing into Brian O Domhnaill's expenses was due to get under way next Monday, but the Donegal senator went to the High Court to have it put back.

He has been granted leave to apply for a judicial review to have the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) public hearing postponed, and claimed his rights were being infringed.

Mr O Domhnaill claims his constitutional rights would be infringed unless documents that are part of the investigation are provided to him in Irish.

Neither Mr O Domhnaill nor his solicitor returned calls or requests for comments.

The expenses are from his time as county councillor in Donegal in 2006 and 2007 and the High Court has given Mr O Domhnaill permission to challenge aspects of an investigation of the SIPO probe into his claims.

It is understood some of the expenses were filed in Irish, and Mr O Domhnaill is a fluent speaker. He is also fluent in English.

As part of his High Court action, Mr O Domhnaill is seeking orders that the investigation be carried out in Irish and that documents relating to the investigation be made available to him in Irish.

It is not clear how much extra it would cost SIPO to furnish all documents in English and Irish.

Permission to bring the challenge has been granted by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, and the case will come back before the courts next month.

The commission will also meet on Monday and discuss complaints made against Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan over the penalty points affair.

Independent TD Mick Wallace complained to SIPO about Mr Shatter's use of confidential garda information about him during a live 'Prime Time' broadcast.

And one of the two garda whistleblowers made allegations to SIPO about Mr Callinan and a garda assistant commissioner.

ANONYMOUS

The whistleblower is understood to complain his allegations were described as "anonymous" when he argues they were, in fact, given in confidence.

However, even though both complaints are expected to be discussed on Monday, it is not clear if SIPO will decide at that meeting to launch a full investigation into either or both claims.

They could put the decision back to another meeting.

Irish Independent

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