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Travesty of planning tribunal's findings

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Joseph Murphy Jnr took proceedings against the tribunal over adverse findings against him in its second and third interim reports (Stock photo)

Joseph Murphy Jnr took proceedings against the tribunal over adverse findings against him in its second and third interim reports (Stock photo)

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Joseph Murphy Jnr took proceedings against the tribunal over adverse findings against him in its second and third interim reports (Stock photo)

As tribunals are back in the news at the moment, the public got a timely reminder of the flaws in these types of inquiries yesterday.

The High Court has quashed, on consent, findings of the planning tribunal against the chairman of Joseph Murphy Structural Engineering (JMSE).

Joseph Murphy Jnr took proceedings against the tribunal over adverse findings against him in its second and third interim reports.

Yesterday, the tribunal acknowledged some material had not been disclosed to Mr Murphy, his late father Joseph Murphy senior and others associated with Murphy interests.

This was unlawful and breached Mr Murphy's Constitutional rights, it said.

The material in question would have enabled the Murphys to conduct an effective and comprehensive cross-examination of the tribunal's main witness, the late James Gogarty.

Following the court's order, Mr Murphy said he was delighted with the outcome.

What the tribunal had found was "far removed" from the values he and his late father had in business, he said.

The tribunal was set up 20 years ago and made findings in 2002, which had "huge consequences" for his business.

Asked if he is to receive any damages as part of the case, he said no, but he was happy with the result and he wanted to "get on with my life".

However, the travesty of the original tribunal judgment is Mr Murphy Snr is no longer around to witness his name being cleared of findings against his company.

One way or another, you are going to pay for water

And where exactly is that money going to come from?

Fine Gael now wants to refund the almost one million households who paid their water charges.

If you paid all your bills, you're in line for a €325 payment. The cost of refunding bill payers is put at €162m.

Don't get too excited, the cash coming into your wallet is coming out of your back pocket.

The money is spent. The only source of funding for this refund is the Exchequer - and that means you are paying for it in your taxes.

So those who paid their water bills will now get their money back because the Government doesn't want to have to explain to those who complied with the law why they are not going to chase those who didn't comply with the law.

Go figure. Fine Gael, the law and order party, is now admitting the impracticality of pursuing those who didn't pay. The fudge is being lined up as part of a compromise between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, so they can both save face and avoid a general election.

The two parties remain at loggerheads over the total abolition of charges.

But the impasse will doubtless be resolved in time and both sides will claim they saved the day.

Either way, there is going to have to be substantial funding for our water infrastructure, so the taxpayer is going to foot the bill one way or another.

Irish Independent