O'Brien, Lowry welcome ruling
REACTION:FORMER FINE Gael minister and current Independent TD Michael Lowry and businessman Denis O’Brien have welcomed yesterday’s decision allowing a court case concerning the 1995 mobile phone licence competition.
Both said they had long believed the proper forum for hearing allegations against the competition was the courts, as against a tribunal of inquiry.
“I have always advocated that a court of law, with its established rules and procedures, is the proper forum to critically probe the process,” the TD for North Tipperary said in a statement yesterday.
“Shortly after the licence was granted and the losing consortia started a campaign to undermine the process, I, as then minister, invited and encouraged the losing bidders to seek a judicial review of the process. They declined that request.”
Mr Lowry said he sincerely hoped that the plaintiffs would proceed with their legal challenge.
“This claim is without merit or substance and should be vigorously defended by the State.”
While the case to be taken by Persona, which is owned by businessmen Tony Boyle and Michael McGinley, is against the State, the case by businessman Declan Ganley, who was part of the Cellstar consortium, is being taken against the State and Mr O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien said the US group Comcast, which was part of the Cellstar consortium, was not party to the case which was being taken solely by Mr Ganley.
He welcomed the opportunity to defend the allegations in a court of law where the rules of evidence and procedure would apply.
“I am absolutely satisfied that these allegations being pursued by Persona and Mr Ganley will be demonstrated to be devoid of evidence and substance.”
Mr O’Brien added that Esat Digifone had won the licence because it had submitted the best bid.
This position, he said, was supported by all the civil servants involved in the process who gave evidence to the Moriarty tribunal.
It was also supported by the international expert Michael Andersen, who was involved in the competition process and who gave evidence to the tribunal.
Mr Boyle told The Irish Times yesterday that he was determined to proceed with his case against the State.
“A grievous injustice has been done. It is more than 12 months since the publication of the Moriarty report and there has been no action.”
Mr Ganley, in a tweet, welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court.