| 19.6°C Dublin

Mitchell awaits her fate after grilling by committee

FINE Gael TD Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell has been quizzed by an internal party disciplinary committee investigating her involvement with the Mahon Tribunal.

The Irish Independent understands that Ms Mitchell was quizzed by the three-member panel on Wednesday night and the party is expected to decide her fate within days.

Ms Mitchell declined to comment last night and an FG spokeswoman would only say that the results of the party's internal inquiries would be completed "by the end of the month". Sources say this is likely to be early next week.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Ms Mitchell said yesterday, adding: "I promised I wouldn't, so I won't."

The Mahon Tribunal criticised as "inappropriate" her receipt of IR£500 from lobbyist Frank Dunlop.

However, neither the tribunal nor Frank Dunlop ever claimed that the "unsolicited donation" was corrupt.

It is believed that the veteran TD may resign her Dail seat if the party whip is removed from her, causing an unwanted by-election for the Government in a volatile constituency.

Some close to Ms Mitchell want a decision as quickly as possible, saying the past few weeks have been extremely stressful for her as her position is in limbo.

Some expected an announcement almost immediately after Wednesday's meeting. However, they also pointed out that she has fought her corner hard, with strong support from allies in the party.

Tribunal

The party has been split on how to deal with Ms Mitchell, with some TDs suggesting that it would be overly harsh to censure her and others saying the party must not seen to be ignoring the tribunal's report.

The disciplinary committee is a sub-committee of the party's national executive and its members are understood to include Leonora Carey, sister of Clare TD Joe Carey.

A previous Fine Gael inquiry in 2000, headed by senior counsel James Nugent, cleared Ms Mitchell of any wrongdoing.

When it came to the Quarryvale development, it said it was "totally satisfied that the payment of IR£500" to Ms Mitchell by Frank Dunlop had "no bearing whatsoever on Ms Mitchell's vote" and noted "her co-operation with the committee was total".

The report noted that Ms Mitchell had "informed the committee in detail of all contributions made to her, even those less than IR£500".

Irish Independent