Sunday 21 January 2018

O'Brien calls on Moriarty to resign in blistering attack

Tribunal incapable of impartiality, says tycoon


TELECOMS tycoon Denis O'Brien called on Mr Justice Michael Moriarty to resign last night as tensions escalated dramatically over the payments-to-politicians tribunal.

In what will be seen as an unprecedented attack on a serving judge of the superior courts, Mr O'Brien launched a blistering criticism of the tribunal, the chairman and its legal team.

Mr O'Brien said that the chairman and his legal team should step aside to allow the appointment of a retired, independent judge from overseas.

A retired judge from overseas should review the conduct of the Moriarty Tribunal as well as conducting an unbiased and forensic examination of all the sworn evidence already heard by the inquiry, he said.


"The Moriarty Tribunal as presently constituted is simply not capable of producing an impartial final report," said Mr O'Brien in a statement last night.

"It appears incapable of considering anything other than its own pre-ordained conclusions in the matters under inquiry."

Mr O'Brien was responding to the unprecedented statement issued by Mr Justice Moriarty where he described criticisms of his tribunal's work as a "sustained attack".

The chairman of the payments-to-politicians-tribunal launched a counter-offensive last Friday against continuing assaults on his integrity.

Mr Justice Moriarty responded robustly to criticism of his tribunal, although he didn't identify his critics.

Disgraced former minister Michael Lowry and billionaire Mr O'Brien have each separately slated the tribunal and both expect to be criticised in its findings.

A defiant Mr Justice Moriarty said that none of the sustained criticisms of him would deflect him from the "impartial discharge of my remit to the best of my ability in accordance with the oath of office I took when I was appointed a judge of the High Court".

He continued: "They will not inhibit me from reporting, without fear or favour."

The chairman admitted making significant errors last month in the tribunal's dealings with legal advice from the Attorney General's office.

Mr Justice Moriarty said he had made mistakes about the legal advice given by the Attorney General's office in the awarding of the second mobile phone licence won by Mr O'Brien's company Esat Digifone.

In his statement, Mr O'Brien said the tribunal should recognise that not a single witness involved in the second mobile phone licence has given evidence of any interference in the process by the then minister Mr Lowry.

And there is no evidence that he had made any payment to Michael Lowry, Mr O'Brien said.

"The simple fact is that those affected by the tribunal's report and those who have experience in this process simply cannot have any faith in the ability and willingness of the tribunal to act in an impartial and rational way," said Mr O'Brien.

It is the policy of the Moriarty Tribunal not to respond to statements made about its workings.

Meanwhile, other parties who were refused their legal costs are preparing to launch High Court challenges to the planning tribunal following the Supreme Court ruling last week.

After the devastating criticism by the Supreme Court of Mr Justice Feargus Flood's competence in chairing the tribunal, legal sources believe it will be very difficult to deny any witnesses their legal costs.

Irish Independent

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