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For three years, ministers have repeatedly given the EXACT same answer to Moriarty questions

Questions about the garda investigation into the tribunal’s findings have not disclosed much information since 2012.

The wording of written answers to questions about Moriarty has not changed despite a change of minister.
The wording of written answers to questions about Moriarty has not changed despite a change of minister.
Image: KildareStreet.com

GARDAÍ HAVE NOT begun a full investigation into the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal over four years after its findings were published, it has emerged.

Though gardaí carried out an initial examination of the report they are still waiting for guidance from the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether a full garda investigation should be carried out.

This has been the same position that the government has been outlining in responses to Dáil questions about the tribunal since May 2012, according to an analysis by TheJournal.ie

In March 2011, the Moriarty Tribunal found that former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry had an “insidious and pervasive” influence over the awarding of Ireland’s second mobile phone licence in the 1990s to Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone company.

Lowry has rejected the findings of the tribunal which investigated payments to politicians, while O’Brien has also rejected adverse findings made against him.

Despite several parliamentary questions from opposition politicians on the progress of the garda investigation over the past three years, the government’s position has been literally unchanged in that time.

Identical or almost identical responses have been issued on at least eight occasions to TDs who have submitted queries.

The latest came in answers to parliamentary questions tabled by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the party’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins last week.

In a response dated 18 June, Fitzgerald told Collins:

In addition, I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following the examination by An Garda Síochána of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions was sought with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should be commenced.

“As this process is ongoing it would not be appropriate for me to comment in further detail at this time,” she added.

New Garda oversight powers planned Frances Fitzgerald Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The exact same wording appears in a response to Micheál Martin who tabled the written question two days earlier on 16 June:

In addition, I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following the examination by An Garda Síochána of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions was sought with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should be commenced. As this process is ongoing it would not be appropriate for me to comment in further detail at this time.

The same wording also appears in a response given to independent TD Róisín Shortall in a written answer on 12 May:

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following the examination by An Garda Síochána of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions was sought with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should be commenced. As this process is ongoing it would not be appropriate for me to comment in further detail at this time.

Almost identical wording was given in response to a question from Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty on 24 June last year when Fitzgerald said:

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following their examination of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been sought on the findings of that examination, with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should now be commenced.

This wording was also used by Fitzgerald’s predecessor, Alan Shatter, on several occasions during his time as Minister for Justice.

Fine Gael Think Ins Alan Shatter Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

He used it in written answers to Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher on 15 April 2014 and to Pearse Doherty on 23 April 2013.

Doherty was also given the exact same wording in a written answer on 12 December 2012 when Shatter told him:

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following their examination of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been sought on the findings of that examination, with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should now be commenced.

The same response was also issued to Micheál Martin on 1 May 2012 when he told the Fianna Fáil leader:

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following their examination of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been sought on the findings of that examination, with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should now be commenced.

Read: Fine Gael’s €600k Moriarty Tribunal bill paid by Taoiseach’s Department

Read: Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal’s work is finished

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Hugh O'Connell

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