Donegal senator’s statement of means to court ‘sparse’ - judge

Independent Senator Brian Ó Dómhnaill before court on foot of debt owed to Sipo

Senator Briain Ó Dómhnaill leaving Falcarragh District Court. Photograph: North West newspix

Senator Briain Ó Dómhnaill leaving Falcarragh District Court. Photograph: North West newspix

 

A Judge has told a Donegal Senator that he must provide a more detailed statement of his means after he appeared in court on foot of an instalment order application.

Independent Senator Brian Ó Dómhnaill appeared at Falcarragh District Court where an application was made to determine how much the politician can afford to pay on a debt.

The application was made by solicitor Rory O’Brien instructed by A&L Goodbody Solicitors on behalf of the Standards in Public Office (Sipo).

It follows two separate applications by Sipo after High Court orders for costs were given in a previous case.

The case arose after Sipo found Senator Ó Dómhnaill had wrongly claimed expenses of around €2,000 when he was a Fianna Fáil Donegal County Councillor during 2006/7 on foot of an anonymous complaint to Donegal County Council.

The State ethics watchdog found Mr Ó Dómhnaill intentionally broke ethics legislation after he claimed expenses from two separate bodies for the same trip in 2006; Donegal County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

He claimed hundreds of euro in travel and subsistence for attending the events which took place simultaneously but which were hundreds of kilometres apart.

It cost Sipo in excess of €360,000 to investigate the matter in which Senator O’Dómhnaill denied any wrongdoing.

Most of the costs relate to High Court and Court of Appeal hearings connected to the case and for translation services. Sipo won its claim for costs.

In 2016, the Gortahork based senator resigned from Fianna Fáil and is now and Independent senator.

Defence solicitor Kieran Haran claimed the application was vexatious by bringing it before the local court in his area.

He said his client was looking for a period of time to deal with the matter through an insolvency practitioner.

However, Mr O’Brien pointed out that the application was brought in the court area where Mr Ó Dómhnaill resides and was being made on foot of the High Court orders. He added that Sipo was not consenting to an adjournment as this avenue had been explored before and rejected.

Judge Paul Kelly asked to see Mr Ó Dómhnaill’s statement of means.

Having viewed the file he noted that the contents of the statement of means were “sparse”.

“He would need to be a lot more forthcoming with the various statements in the statement of means,” he said.

He adjourned the case until March 25th for a full statement of means.