Call for consequences for those facing adverse tribunal findings

Friday 30 March 2012 11.50
Brendan Howlin made comments on tribunal findings
Brendan Howlin made comments on tribunal findings

A Government minister has said there should be consequences for individuals against whom any tribunal makes adverse findings.

Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Brendan Howlin was speaking in the Dail in response to a question regarding businessman Denis O'Brien's attendance at a function in the US alongside Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

He added that the Taoiseach had no control over who he was photographed with.

In relation to an invitation to the Global Irish Economic Forum, Minister Howlin said those invited were based on the invitation list on the first forum.

This was greeted with laughter on the Opposition benches.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said it seems the Government is ambivalent, confused or "maybe compromised" in terms of its position around genuine consequences or reform as regards these individuals.

However, Mr Howlin repeated that there should be consequences for people like Mr O'Brien, but added that the Government had discussed a list of people who should be shunned as he put it.

His comments echo remarks from Joan Burton yesterday who told TDs it was time the Government reflected on interacting with those against whom adverse findings had been made.

Govt playing 'games' with planning reviews

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has accused the Government of playing political games with the proposed independent planning reviews of seven local authorities.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is due to make a public statement next month on whether the external inquiries into planning practices will proceed.

The Government said the cost of retaining consultants to carry out the inquiries would be considerable and is being reviewed.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Mr Ryan said the cost had already been examined by Mr Gormley when in office.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday rejected claims that a planning inquiry had been suppressed by the Government.

Mr Ryan said: “All the Government has to do was say ‘Yep proceed with that. This is going to be inexpensive. This makes sense’. Instead what they did was say ‘No we’ll stop that. We’re not going to do it’.

"Yesterday and in the last few days a series of ministers have come out ... playing political point scoring. Like going back and saying ‘this process wasn’t done properly’. Sorry. It was."

Mr Ryan said the reviews were important to get confidence back in Ireland’s planning system.

However, Minister of State Jan O'Sullivan today told the Dáil that the investigations into planning initiated by former Minister John Gormley are ongoing.

Ms O'Sullivan said a number of authorities had been selected to assist in this review of policies and practices.

She said the internal reviews would show if the cost of an independent investigation would be justified, though she did not specify any individual cases.

However she said she wanted to make it clear that former Minister Gormley did not establish any investigation. He set up a panel of consultants, she said, who would be available to carry out any investigation.

He then went out of office in January 2011 without establishing any investigations, she added.

Ms O'Sullivan said he was succeeded by Eamon O Cuiv, who did not initiate any investigations either.

She said her predecessor, in conjunction with Minister Hogan, asked for a review within the Department, which is ongoing.

Once the work is completed she said she would issue a public statement.

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