Alleged Corruption Uninterrupted




From top: The Moriarty Report Part 2, 2011; Anne-Marie McNally

When strong evidence of alleged corruption is presented and amassed at great cost and nothing happens perhaps the process itself is corrupt?

Anne Marie McNally writes:

We spend a lot of our time on this little island decrying the lack of hard-line action on white collar crime. We bandy the word corruption around quite a lot but how do we define corruption and are we really victims of it or just some bad nudge, nudge, wink, wink, behaviour?

Convictions for corruption are not unheard of but they are very few and far between.The most recent and possibly highest profile case was that of a former Fine Gael Councillor in Waterford who was found guilty of receiving €80,000 in payments from a property developer and sentenced to six years in prison with two suspended. Interestingly, the property developer who made the corrupt payments had no such inconvenience.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines corruption as ‘dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery’ – seems pretty self-explanatory and straightforward doesn’t it? In Ireland, The Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-2010 define corruption as ‘any payment offered or received in order to influence a public official‘.

The various Acts do not require actual proof that the transaction ultimately secured a contract or a licence but rather just evidence that information pertaining to a State contract or licence was provided or that a public official was influenced in any way.

One of the 2011 findings of the Moriarty Tribunal was that Michael Lowry TD provided substantive information to Denis O’Brien which was “of significant value to him in securing the (2nd mobile phone) licence.”

With that in mind, carefully recall the definition above as laid out in the Prevention of Corruption Act 2010. So why has there been no legal action on foot of the Moriarty findings?

A little understood fact regarding the Moriarty tribunal is that the conclusions are merely opinions. Opinions, it must be stated, which are vehemently rejected by both Denis O’Brien and Michael Lowry.

However, for any further action to come from the findings of the tribunal the Gardaí would be required to uncover actual evidence through a new investigation because any evidence presented to a tribunal of Inquiry cannot be used to secure a criminal conviction against a witness from that Tribunal!

A lot of flak has been aimed at the DPP for its failure to act on Moriarty but in reality the DPP is not permitted to act on alleged offences and she would need to be presented with evidence from the Gardaí that actual wrong-doing has taken place in order to proceed with any actions.

So are the Gardaí currently working on presenting this evidence, if it exists? Well, in short, no. Yes they apparently carried out an initial investigation led by the Criminal Assets Bureau chief but at the moment the official line is that they are still waiting for guidance from the DPP as to whether or not to proceed with a full investigation.

But wait, what was that bit earlier about the office of the DPP needing the Gardaí to bring them evidence in order to proceed? I’m as confused as you are and as, it seems, are Government because it has rolled out the same PQ reply on numerous occasions which basically states that the Gardaí are awaiting direction from the DPP as to how to proceed.

Whoever is dropping the ball on this one may be unclear, but what is very clear is the original players in this sorry saga are getting on with their careers and business interests unperturbed by those pesky meddling kids on the tribunal benches.

Anne-Marie McNally is a Political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and The Social Democrats. Opinions expressed may not necessarily be shared by her employers. Follow her on Twitter: @amomcnally

27 thoughts on “Alleged Corruption Uninterrupted

  1. nellyb

    So, tribunals are only useful as income generating vehicles for admin functions and law profession. Good to know.

    1. scottser

      it has always been thus. hence bertie’s ‘i won it on a horse’ two fingers to you, me, the nation, the tribunal system and the law.

  2. (Off-Duty) Legal Coffee Drinker

    Anne-Marie’s piece focuses on something very important.

    The standard line since 2011 re Moriarty has been the following:-

    “Gardaí are still consulting with the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether a full garda investigation should be carried out.”

    This ‘consulting’ has been going on for 4 years!!!

    We all need to keep pushing this agenda, otherwise the consultation will still be going on when all parties concerned are dead.

      1. rory

        Perhaps if the DPP doesn’t do something soon, the moriarty report will be statute barred?

        I know this can happen with civil proceedings. Not sure if it applies to criminal prosecutions.

        N.B. I am in no way a legal professional. This is just a idea.

      2. realPolithicks

        I’m guessing they are dragging their heels because the powers that be don’t actually want anything done, they just want to be able to pretend they do.

    1. Fergus the magic postman

      So are the Gardaí & the DPP actually consulting on this, or is it something that the would prefer not to pursue for whatever reason? Is one overruling the other?

  3. Lidia Matassa

    Well reported, Anne Marie. It is actually horrifying that there is (and was) no automatic avenue to prosecute those against whom findings of corruption were made in Moriarty. It is as though the legislators who set out the terms and parameters of the tribunal never intended there to be any binding follow-up.

  4. classter

    I know we should avoid politicising the DPP but there needs to be some mechanism to make the DPP accountable.

    1. ollie

      The DPP is accountable, the question is to who?

      Those who own and control the media? Or those who appoint the DPP? Or those who don’t provide the DPP with the resources to carry out their role effectively?

      1. classter goes deeper than having resources or not.

        There have been a number of cases where the DPP’s decision not to proceed is controversial. Now, they may have been correct in those instances but they don’t feel the need to give a thorough explanation. There doesn’t seem to be much of an avenue to challenge this.

  5. ollie

    Good well written article.

    The thing I don’t get is this:
    If you make an allegation of law breaking to the GArdai the accused person is brought to the GArda station and questioned. A file is then prepared by the GArdai and sent to the DPp for consideration.
    In the Moriarty Tribunal example, I would have thought that the report is grounds enough to question those suspected of breaking the law and that by now they would be questioned by Gardai.
    The fact the they haven’t and that one is an ex FG TD and the other has donated money to FG and is an aquaintenace of the Taoiseach would lead me to think that there is political interference going on.

    If you then look at the arrest of those suspected of breaking the law in Jobstown and the fact thet they were arrested at their homes with the media present it thickens the plot.

    If you then look at the Justice Minister ORDERING the Garda Commissioned to take a look at the status of the IRA (no political influence to see here people), you would be forgiven for being totally cynical.

    1. meadowlark

      I was effectively thinking the same thing. I’m curious as to why evidence presented to a tribunal can’t be used as grounds for investigation against a tribunal witness even if there is compelling evidence to suggest wrongdoing. To be honest it strikes me as somewhat Gordian, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was deliberate.

  6. Mr. T.

    “because any evidence presented to a tribunal of Inquiry cannot be used to secure a criminal conviction against a witness from that Tribunal!”

    So that’s the point of the Tribunals, to make any chance of a successful prosecution very slim indeed.

  7. Kolmo

    People should maybe print this, and present it to the crawlers coming to your door around election time. – We have a democracy of insiders and outsiders, the majority are outsiders and are seen as the meddlesome enemy and portrayed as unreasonable if protesting getting fkt. To be in an insider is the new aspiration of our education system (points race etc..), maybe this was always the way, I’m alright, eff you, until it effects me, then it’s different…ffs

  8. Truth in the News

    When the Guards have finished dealing with Frances Fitzgeralds query
    about the IRA, she could busy them in asking what evidence and interviews
    they have conducted on the award of the Mobile Phone licience in late
    ninties by Micheal Lowry as Minister for Communications.
    The findings of the Moriarty Tribunal do not preclude the Guards from carring
    out an investigation.

  9. PaddyJoe

    There does appear to be some kind of Garda investigation taking place according to Justine McCarthy in the ST a few weeks back. Curious that they’re looking at the dead guy though. He’s unlikely to provide much illumination on the subject from wherever he is now.

    “GARDAI conducting an investigation on foot of the Moriarty report are focusing on the tribunal testimony of an English accountant who administered businessman Denis O’Brien’s family trust.

    Peter Vanderpump was a partner in the Isle of Man office of Deloitte & Touche and a director of Walbrook Trustees (Isle of Man) Ltd, which administered client trusts. One of these was the Wellington Trust that, Vanderpump told the tribunal, was created for the benefit of O’Brien when the accountancy office started working for the Irish businessman in September 1997.

    Vanderpump, who died in January 2014, also administered Westferry Ltd, the company that bought Doncaster Rovers Football Club for £4.3m (€6.3m) in August 1998. Westferry’s shares were registered in the name of Walbrook Trustees for the benefit of the Wellington Trust….”

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