Main proceedings against Lawlor unlikely before new year


The first step in a legal process which could lead to the jailing of Mr Liam Lawlor for alleged failure to co-operate with the Flood tribunal was taken at the High Court yesterday.

However, the main proceedings against the Dublin West TD are unlikely to be heard until the new year. Yesterday, the matter was adjourned to Thursday but it was indicated that the case will not be ready for hearing then.

On the application of lawyers for the tribunal yesterday, Mr Justice Smyth gave leave for service on Mr Lawlor of a notice of motion seeking the attachment or committal of the former Fianna Fail deputy.

The tribunal's lawyers are to make the necessary papers available to Mr Lawlor's lawyers by this evening. Mr Frank Clarke SC, for the tribunal, said the application arose from proceedings which had been heard by Mr Justice Smyth some weeks ago. An order had been made by the court then and the sole member of the tribunal now wished to move on foot of it. Mr Clarke suggested that the motion could be made returnable for tomorrow or Thursday. Papers in the case would not be available until close of business today and it might have to go back to a start date after Christmas, Mr Clarke said.

Mr John Rogers SC, for Mr Lawlor, said from what Mr Clarke was saying, complex and extensive affidavits would be necessary. He was not sure they could realistically contemplate dealing with the matter before the Christmas vacation. Mr Clarke said his side would not press for the matter to go on (before Christmas) if Mr Rogers felt they would not be ready.

Mr Justice Smyth said he would give liberty for notice of the motion to be served for Thursday. On October 24th, Mr Lawlor was ordered by Mr Justice Smyth to appear before the tribunal and provide it with various documents and records within a stipulated timescale.

The judge found the tribunal's order of last June 8th directing Mr Lawlor to make discovery of documents and records was valid. A suggestion by Mr Lawlor that he might attend before a private session of the tribunal was rejected. The Supreme Court later dismissed his appeal against the High Court judgment.

Later, Mr Lawlor appeared before public sittings of the tribunal but last Friday, he was stood down as a witness. The tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Flood, said he was instructing counsel to apply to the High Court for enforcement orders.