FF Senator ordered to pay costs of failed expenses challenge

Brian O Domhnaill’s appeal against Standards in Public Office Commission investigation failed

The Court of Appeal has ordered Fianna Fáil Senator Brian O Domhnaill must pay the costs of his failed legal challenge to an investigation by the Standards in Public Office Commission into alleged duplication of expenses claims.

The three judge court ruled the Senator had advanced no grounds entitling the court to depart from the normal rule that costs go to the winning side.

Last July, the court dismissed the Senator's appeal against the High Court's refusal to halt the Commission's investigation concerning travel and subsistence claims made by him between 2006 and 2007, when he was a member of Donegal County Council.

The commission was due to begin a public session concerning the expenses matter in June 2012 but that was put on hold after Mr O Domhnaill secured leave from the High Court days earlier to bring his challenge.

In his judicial review proceedings, Mr O Domhnaill claimed the commission was not entitled to deal with the matters because, he claimed, they arose from an anonymous complaint by a member of the public.

Alternatively, he sought orders requring the case to be heard by a commission comprising members who are bilingual and able to conduct and understand the proceedings without the assistance of an interpreter.

The commission and State opposed his case and also contended the complaint being investigated concerned alleged duplication of expenses claims and the investigation is in the public interest.

The appeal court, comprising Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Mr Justice Peter Kelly and Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh, disagreed the complaint was anonymous and found the substantive complaint before the Commission was one made by the Mayor and County Manager of Donegal County Council.

The court rejected further arguments the Constitution or the law requires commission members hearing the complaint should be bilingual.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times