Tribunals being crippled, claims Socialist Party TD

 

Socialist Party TD Mr Joe Higgins said yesterday that the proposed tribunals of inquiry were being "crippled deliberately" by terms of reference which would narrow the focus of their investigations.

He called for the £38 million contained in the secret Ansbacher accounts to be included in the Moriarty tribunal and for a series of rezoning scandals to be investigated by the proposed inquiry into the controversy involving a £30,000 payment received by Mr Ray Burke.

Mr Higgins also accused the presidential candidates of engaging in "total guff".

Speaking on RTE radio, Mr Higgins criticised the refusal of the Government to investigate the content of the Ansbacher accounts.

Mr Justice McCracken, who chaired the Payments to Politicians Tribunal, had hinted very strongly that there were motives for the secrecy surrounding the money kept in these offshore accounts, but the Government had blocked attempts to have an inquiry, he said.

Mr Higgins also heavily criticised the terms of reference of the separate tribunal into the rezoning of a parcel of land in north Co Dublin and the payment of £30,000 received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Burke.

"There were very scandalous rezonings carried out by an absolute rezoning juggernaut of councillors from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the PDs, which flew in the face of all professional advice and community organisations, and at the behest of developers rezoned major areas of land, totally unjustified," he said.

On the presidential election, Mr Higgins said the way in which the political parties had approached the campaign "betrays an unbelievable level of cynicism".

"Some of them have shown that they don't have the confidence to stand their own candidate on their own platform. Sit down with a pen and paper and try to ferret out a name and a face that they think might run," he said.