Michael Bailey seeks investigation into planning tribunal
Adverse findings against 11 witness dropped as inquiry publishes revised reports
File photograph of Mr Ray Burke arriving at the Flood Tribunal in Dublin Castle in 2001. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Developer Michael Bailey has called for an independent investigation of the planning tribunal after it was forced to drop findings it made against him and 10 other witnesses.
Mr Bailey described his treatment at the hands of the tribunal as “worse than the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six” and predicted there would be further legal challenges to the inquiry.
The tribunal has formally said it has dropped findings of corruption against impresario Oliver Barry, and businessmen Joseph Murphy snr and Joseph Murphy jnr, in relation to substantial payments they made to former Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke in 1989.
All adverse findings made in the early years of the inquiry against Mr Bailey and his brother Tom, along with six other witnesses, have also been dropped.
The tribunal has published revised reports which retain some corruption findings against Mr Burke, while others have been removed.
All but one of the corruption findings against former Dublin county manager George Redmond have been removed from a revised version of a 2004 report into his activities.
Michael Bailey paid tribute to the late Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman who, he said, was the first person to see the tribunal “for the sham it was”. He claimed the tribunal was “in love with the media and its own self-importance” when it began.
The experience did not take a personal toll, he said. “I was able to weather the storm. I knew I was right. I knew one day the truth would come out.”
The tribunal has published the revised versions of its second and third interim reports, on Mr Burke and Mr Gogarty respectively, on its website.
The highly redacted reports are much shorter than the original versions – Mr Redmond’s report now runs to a single page.
The changes were forced on the tribunal after it lost a succession of court battles over its failure to circulate private statements from witnesses to all affected parties. This meant the testimony from its chief whistleblower James Gogarty in relation to Mr Burke, the Murphys and the Bailey brothers could no longer be relied upon.
In a lengthy explanation of its actions, tribunal chairman Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the decision of his predecessor, Mr Justice Flood, not to circulate documents was taken in good faith and after legal advice.
It was not immediately challenged in the courts but in 2005 developer Owen O’Callaghan won a Supreme Court case on the issue.
Subsequent litigation by others confirmed this position and the tribunal agreed to modify the two reports.
A finding that Mr Redmond conspired with former Fianna Fáil TD Liam Lawlor to seek a corrupt payment from developer Tom Gilmartin appears in the final report and has not been removed.
Mr Justice Mahon admitted to a delay in amending the two reports but pointed out that he and the two other members of the tribunal had no role in these investigations, which were headed by Mr Justice Flood until his retirement in 2003.
He said it was the tribunal’s belief that no option existed to legally re-open previous inquiries and pointed out that Mr Gogarty died in 2005.
The ultimate cost of the inquiry is expected to be about €159 million.