First phase of inquiry completed

 

JUDGE Gerard Buchanan, who was appointed by the Government to identify the politicians and public servants who received payments from Dunnes Stores, has completed the first phase of his work and will shortly have written to all the relevant named persons.

The judge was charged with extracting the names from the Price Waterhouse report following the Lowry controversy.

Having contacted those identified in the report as having received payment from Dunnes Stores, he will await their replies and will then compile a report for the specially appointed Dail subcommittee.

Government sources last night said they had no time for completion of the judge's report.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges sub-committee is expected to meet next week to appoint a chairman formally and to select a legal adviser for its deliberations on the report.

The names of three senior counsel will be submitted to the subcommittee by its clerk, Mr John Kissane, and the legal expert will be retained until the Dail group concludes its work.

The five-strong sub-committee is expected to meet next week to work out a system of how it intends to proceed when Judge Buchanan's report becomes available. It will confirm the Labour TD for Louth, Mr Michael Bell, as chairman.

The other members of the subcommittee are Fine Gael's Mr Jim O'Keeffe; Mr Des O'Malley of the Progressive Democrats; Mr Noel Dempsey of Fianna Fail and Mr Eric Byrne of Democratic Left.

The controversial circumstances surrounding the resignation of Mr Lowry last month are certain to be explored in more detail when he comes to give evidence before the sub-committee as he has promised.

Meanwhile, the Finance and General Affairs sub-committee is scheduled to meet in private today to discuss the Compellability of Witnesses Bill. It will also consider the Bill at committee stage tomorrow.

Mr Jim O'Keeffe yesterday said it was extremely important that this legislation be enacted so that the special sub-committee investigating the circumstances of the Dunnes Stores payments could be armed with extra powers.

The Bill will enable some Oireachtas committees to compel persons to appear before them and - will accord witnesses the same level of privilege as that enjoyed before the High Court. The legislation will also give some commits tees the authority to summon relevant documentation and records.

"It is very very important that the Compellability Bill be enacted and operational so that the powers will be available to the CPP subcommittee when it comes to deal with Judge Buchanan's report," Mr O'Keeffe added.