Howlin aims to block tribunal dissolution bill


The Labour Party will this week attempt to block Government plans to bring a motion before the Dáil to suspend or dissolve a Tribunal of Inquiry.

The party's justice Spokesman Brendan Howlin, said he would table a Second Stage amendment that would effectively put the Bill on hold for a year.

"I believe it would be totally inappropriate for the Government to proceed with the Bill at this time against the background of the current controversies involving the Taoiseach and the Mahon Tribunal.

Mr Howlin questioned the timing of the Government's decision to put the Bill before the House but suggested it may be an attempt to influence or even intimidate" tribunals.

"The Bill was published almost twelve months ago; the government has done nothing with it since and there was nothing to suggest that anyone regarded it as a matter of legislative urgency, until the Opposition Whips were told last Wednesday that the Second Stage of the Bill would be taken this week," Mr Howlin said.

He noted that Mr Ahern's problems emerged from documents before the Mahon Tribunal which were leaked to the media and that Fianna Fáil has accused it of being the source.

He also noted that junior minister Noel Treacy was due before Mr Justice Mahon to explain why he blamed the Tribunal for the leak.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Tánaiste Michael McDowell will meet tomorrow to further discuss the crisis that has gripped the Coaltion in recent weeks. Mr McDowell is insisting that he must be informed of any further revelations relating to Mr Ahern's finances and has asked for a list of people who attended the dinner in Manchester at which Mr Ahern received €12,000.

Mr Ahern refused at a ceremony in Fermoy in Co Cork today to be drawn on the talks he had on the issue with Mr McDowell yesterday.