Moriarty, the DPP and the Gardaí
27 November, 2015
Sherlock Holmes famously spotted the significance of the “curious incident of the dog in the night-time“: the fact that it didn’t bark was of great importance. But this has nothing on the biggest non-barking dog in Ireland: the absence of any follow-up to the 4-year-old Moriarty Report.
In October 2015, Lucinda Creighton told the Dáil:
It is almost five years since Mr. Justice Moriarty, in his tribunal report on payments to politicians, found that it is beyond doubt that Deputy Michael Lowry imparted substantive information to Denis O’Brien which was of “significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence”. It has since emerged that there has been, for over three years, a Garda investigation following the Moriarty tribunal’s findings of suspected criminality in payments to politicians. Extraordinarily, this has not yet led to an investigation file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP. No one has yet been charged and there have been zero consequences for two of the key individuals against whom adverse findings were made…….
But it seems that Lucinda may not be completely accurate here: the delay might not be with the Gardaí, but in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. According to TheJournal.ie,
“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….Identical or almost identical responses have been issued on at least eight occasions to TDs who have submitted queries.”
So what’s going on in the DPP’s office? Why hasn’t she supplied the requested guidance? Is her office working overtime on this, as they should be, or is there some deliberate foot-dragging going on?
Three years ago, in a different context, I wrote:
…the current DPP, James Hamilton, takes early retirement this month, and the Government have appointed Claire Loftus as his successor. She has been promoted from her role as the Head of the Directing Division in the DPP’s office, and before that she was the DPP’s chief prosecution solicitor from 2001 to 2009. I hope she can move things forward at a faster rate than her predecessor, but unfortunately I can find no reason to believe that a long and successful career in our DPP’s office is an indicator of a dynamic and energetic character. Maybe I will be proved wrong. For the sake of the morale of the general populace, I hope so.
The DPP’s information booklet, available on their website, assures us that “the DPP is independent when making her decisions. This means that no-one – including the Government or the Gardaí – can make the DPP prosecute a particular case or stop her from doing so.” And the Code of Ethics for Prosecutors is equally reassuring: “Prosecutors shall carry out their functions in accordance with section 2(5) of the Prosecution of Offences Act, 1974 which provides that the Director of Public Prosecutions shall be independent in the performance of his functions. They shall exercise their functions free of any extraneous influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.”
So it would surely be very wrong for anybody to suggest that the DPP is succumbing to political or other pressure to sit on the file until after the election, or maybe forever? Hmmmm.
As for the boys in blue, we know that, because any evidence presented to a Tribunal of Inquiry cannot be used to secure a criminal conviction, the Gardaí need to start from scratch and produce criminal-conviction-standard evidence through a new investigation. But why aren’t they getting on with this task instead of using the DPP’s delay as an excuse? What is it that they want guidance about from the DPP before pulling their finger out? Are they under pressure to slow things down? It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the resources being applied to this case within the Gardaí are less than adequate, and that there isn’t any real desire to get cracking.
And meanwhile, poor Denis O’Brien, and poor Michael Lowry, have to suffer the indignity of not being able properly to clear their names after Mr Justice Moriarty accused them of corruption. I’m sure they are itching to have things brought to a head, and are despairing of the sloth being displayed in the Gardaí and the DPP’s office.
So what can they do about it? Well, how about Denis or Michael making a complaint to the DPP’s office about their delay in the case? The DPP’s Information Booklet helpfully tells us: “9. Can I complain to the Office of the DPP? Yes. If you have a complaint about how we work, you can contact us at our Office – see contact details on page 16.”
So there you have it. And if Denis or Michael are too busy to lodge a complaint about the DPP’s tardiness, maybe a helpful member of the public would do so instead? I’m sure they would be grateful.