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