Monday, 30 April 2007

Lawlor widow fails to block probe

Tribunal's public hearings on Quarryvale to go ahead after 18-month delay

THE public hearings of the Quarryvale Two module of the Mahon Tribunal got the green light yesterday after Liam Lawlor's widow failed in her bid to stop it.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill in the High Court refused to put a stay on the tribunal module hearings and said the delay of 18 months in bringing such an application was "unacceptable".

However, the judge ruled that Hazel Lawlor could continue with her legal challenge to the module, but on certain grounds only.

The judge said that Mrs Lawlor, whose husband died in a Moscow car crash two years ago, was not the only person to be interested in the proceedings of the tribunal.

Many others, he said, were affected by the proceedings and wanted an opportunity to deal with allegations against them.

The Quarryvale Two module into the rezoning of lands at Carrickmines has not gone into public hearings since the initial opening statement in November 2005 because of a court challenge by developer Owen O Callaghan - which was unsuccessful before the Supreme Court last month.

The module is due to begin on Monday with a new opening statement and developer Tom Gilmartin will take the stand the next day. More than 130 witnesses have been listed for the public hearings, including Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is due to give evidence at the end of May.

Delivering his judgment on an application by Mrs Lawlor for a stay on the public hearings of the module pending the hearing of her legal challenge before the High Court, Mr Justice O'Neill said there was a great public interest in having the tribunal inquiries in the Quarryvale module completed expeditiously.

The Oireachtas, he said, and more importantly the public were entitled to know that the inquiry could be brought to a conclusion.

The longer the delay in concluding the inquiries, the more the quality of the inquiry work would be susceptible to hazard, he said.

The delay had not been explained to his satisfaction and was unacceptable, Mr Justice O'Neill said.

Ann O'Loughlin
Irish Independent

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