Solicitor finds adjournment request by Senator who wrongly claimed expenses 'galling'

Senator Brian O Domhnaill

A solicitor has said he found a court application by a Senator's legal team to be "galling" after he again failed to provide the court with a detailed statement of his means.

Independent Senator Brian O Domhnaill was due to provide Falcarragh District Court in Co. Donegal with the statement on foot of an instalment order.

The order arises out of a "six-figure" sum owed by the former Fianna Fáil Senator following a High Court case taken by the Standards of Public Office.

A month ago Judge Paul Kelly ordered the statement of means from Senator O Domhnaill.

However, solicitor Rory O'Brien on behalf of Goodbody Solicitors said he had not heard from Senator O Domhnaill's legal representatives Sheehan and Company.

He said: "On March 5th we wrote to them and no response has been received and now we are in the courts' hands. An officer from the Standards in Public Office has travelled to court for the second time."

Solicitor Kieran O'Gorman, acting for Sheehan and Co, said they had not been in a position to get the relevant documentation on Senator O Domhnaill's statements of means and was applying for a short adjournment.

However, Mr O'Brien replied: "This application is quite galling. A very specific direction was given on a previous occasion. A significant six-figure sum is owed."

The case arose after two separate applications by SIPO after High Court orders for costs were given in a previous case.

SIPO had found Senator O’Domhnaill had wrongly claimed expenses of around €2,000 when he was a Fianna Fáil Donegal County Councillor during 2006/7 on foot of an anonymous complaint to Donegal County Council.

The State ethics watchdog found Mr Ó Domhnaill intentionally broke ethics legislation after he claimed expenses from two separate bodies for the same trip.

The Senator was found to have breached ethics rules by the Standards in Public Office Commission after claiming expenses from both Donegal County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta on three occasions in 2006.

He claimed hundreds of euro in travel and subsistence for attending the events which took place simultaneously but which were hundreds of kilometres apart.

It cost SIPO in excess of €360,000 to investigate the matter in which Senator O Domhnaill denied any wrongdoing.

Most of the costs relate to High Court and Court of Appeal hearings connected to the case and for translation services. SIPO won its claim for costs.

Judge Paul Kelly said he was allowing for one further adjournment and adjourned the case until May 15, 2019, with peremptory against the debtor, Senator O Domhnaill.

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