Wednesday 21 March 2018

Scrap tribunal and start again -- O'Brien

Sam Smyth

IT was just another day at the Moriarty Tribunal where the search for truth and justice transcends vested interests and partisan emotions.

It began with a spontaneous demonstration against the lawyers in Dublin Castle and ended with a fire-and-brimstone attack on the chairman in a five-star hotel.

Telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien didn't mince his words at a specially convened press conference: he wants Mr Justice Moriarty to scrap his tribunal's provisional findings.

The billionaire made strong accusations about the tribunal chairman and his legal team.

"These findings must now be withdrawn and the final report must be based on principles outlined by the chairman," declared Mr O'Brien

Essentially, after nearly 13 years, Mr O'Brien wants the tribunal to begin again and next time to be conducted differently.

The protesters in Dublin Castle earlier were essentially middle-class and middle-aged folk -- and all 22 of them were concerned with the cost of the tribunal.

Their placards were constructed with new wood and grammatically perfect to an apostrophe, bearing slogans such as "Lawyer's Gravy Train €10m" and "1 Wig -- €10m".

Others spelled out the names of individual lawyers on the tribunal's legal team, while everyone was impeccably behaved, pleasant and polite.

Brian Beggan, from Swords, held a placard and said that the Moriarty Tribunal had lasted longer than the First and Second World War and the Korean War combined.

"We're sympathetic to Mr Lowry and decided to come here when we knew he was appearing at the tribunal," said Mr Beggan. "We're not supporting Mr Lowry but feel he's been given a hard time."

The demonstrators shared a common purpose.

Patricia Donoghue, from Dunshaughlin, said: "We were having a drink one night about a month ago we decided to come to the tribunal."

Oliver Russell, from Kilmessan, Co Meath, was concerned about the waste of taxpayers' money: "I hardly know who's in the tribunal any more."

Eamon Egan, from Maynooth, Co Kildare, insisted they were not political: "We're middle class friends who want to see this come to an end."

Others said they had heard about the group through Facebook and came along to protest.

Inside, the lawyers sat in clusters. Team Michael Lowry sits close to Team Denis O'Brien and across from Team Dermot Desmond. Team Telenor sits in front of Team Department of Communications, while Team Moriarty are lined below the chairman.

The agenda yesterday was much as it was the day before: who knew what and when about legal advice given about the inclusion of Dermot Desmond's IIU company in the Esat Digiphone consortium.

As in the previous day, there were complaints that documents not being made available by the tribunal to Mr O'Brien's and Mr Desmond's legal teams.

The tribunal resumes on Monday morning.

Irish Independent

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