Tuesday 21 November 2017

Probe launched into claims judge interfered 'improperly' in family law case

Former Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke denies she was 'go-between' in the case

Mary O'Rourke
Mary O'Rourke

Dearbhail McDonald and Fiona Ellis

AN investigation has been launched by the Presidents of the High and Circuit Courts into allegations of improper interference in a family law case.

Last night former Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke denied any impropriety after a senior family law judge issued a judgment in relation to a dispute between parents about access to their child.

According to the 'Sunday Times', High Court judge Henry Abbott's July ruling mentioned how he was queried about aspects of the case by an unnamed circuit court judge, who "improperly" made the approach following a representation from a former TD.

Former Fianna Fail politician Mary O'Rourke, who was not named in the 'Sunday Times' story, confirmed she was approached by the mother in the case, but categorically denied being a go-between or making any representations to a circuit court judge in regard to the case.

This morning the Courts Service, which supports the judiciary, confirmed that the issue was "a matter of concern" to the Presidents of the High and Circuit courts.

The matter is being investigated the Courts Service confirmed.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Ms O'Rourke said that she was "very aware" of the separation of powers and "absolutely" did not act as a go-between in this case.

"In my whole life, and I'm so many long numbers of years in public life, I never ever made a representation to a judge about anything," she said.

"The mother came to see me, and she was fully entitled to do so. The woman came to see me at a clinic, in my home actually, because that's where I did my clinic and we chatted for maybe 15 minutes.

"She told me her story and that was it.

"We chatted and talked and I told her to liaise with the HSE, which was the correct thing to do, and she was fully entitled to come to see me at a clinic."

Ms O'Rourke could not recall when the meeting took place, but confirmed she was contacted by the mother when she was an acting TD.

She called the maelstrom, "very strange".

"I advised her about going to the HSE and all of that, that she should get advice; I think I might have said to her to go to a solicitor, or maybe she had a solicitor, I forget that angle and we talked about that as well."

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